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X3 CO.*v 









It is an easy thing to praise or blame : 
The hard task, and the virtue, to do both.' 

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• •• • • •• -• • -•. ••• • ,• • • 

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Printed by Stkwart and Murray, 

Old Bailey. 





2. T. B. MACAULAT 33 











13. THOMAS CARLYLE . . . . . . . 253 


A 3 




" A haunting music, ■ole perhaps and lone 
Sapportrets of the faeiy roof, made moan 
Throughout, as fearing the whole charm might fitde. 


" Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses, 

But feeds on the aerial kisses 

Of shapes that haunt thoughts* wildernesses. 

He will watch from dawn to gloom 

The lake-reflected sun illume 

Tlie yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, 

Nor heed nor see what things they be ; 

But from these, create he can 

Forms more real than real man, — 

Nurslings of immortality/' 




The poetic fire is one simple and intense element in 
human nature ; it has its source in the divine mys- 
teries of our existence ; it developes with the first 
abstract delight of childhood^ the first youthful aspi- 
ration towards something beyond our mortal reach ; 
and eventually becomes the master passion of those 
who are possessed with it in the highest degree^ and 
the most ennobling and refining influence that can 
be exercised upon the passions of others. At times, 
and in various degrees^ all are open to the influence 
of the poetic element. Its objects are palpable to 
the external senses^ in proportion as individual 
perception and sensibility have been habituated to 
contemplate them with interest and delight; and pal- 
pable to the imagination in proportion as an in- 
dividual possesses this faculty, and has habituated it 
to ideal subjects and profoundly sympathetic rc- 



flections. If there be a third condition of its pre- 
sence^ it must be that of a certain consciousness of 
dreamy glories in the soul, with vague emotions, 
aimless impulses, and prophetic sensations, which 
may be said to tremble on the extreme verge of the 
fermenting source of that poetic fire, by which the 
life of humanity is purified and adorned. The first 
and second of these conditions must be clear to all ; 
the last will not receive so general an admission, and 
perhaps may not be so intelligible to everybody as 
could be wished. We thus arrive at the conclusion 
that the poetic element, though simple and entire, 
has yet various forms and modifications of develop- 
ment according to individual nature and circum- 
stance, and, therefore, that its loftiest or subtlest 
manifestations are not equally apparent to the 
average mass of human intelligence. He, then, 
who can give a form and expression to these lofty 
or these subtle manifestations, in a way that shall 
be the most intelligible to the majority, is he who 
best accomplishes the mission of a Poet. We are 
about to claim for Alfred Tennyson — living as he is, 
and solely on account of what he has already accom- 
plished — the title of a true poet of the highest class 
of genius, and one whose writings may be considered 
as peculiarly lucid to all competent understandings 
that have cultivated a love for poetry. 

It may fairly be assumed that the position of 

Aicum Tsmwtaow, 

1 TcDDyscMi, as a poet of fine geiuBk, is now 
roughly established m the minds of all Bincere 

I qualified lorers of the higher classes of poetry in 

B country. But what is bis positioa in the public 
Or, rather, to what extent is he koowo to 

■■ great mass of general readers? Choice and 
limited is the audience, we apprehend, to whom this 
faroured son of Apollo pours forth his melodioas 
soDg. It is true, however, that the public is "a 
rising man " in its gradual appreciation, perhaps of 
every genius of the present time; and certainly this 
appreciation is really on the rise with respect to the 
poetry of Tennyson. It is only some thirteen years 
since he published bis first volume, and if it require 
all this time for " the best judges " to discover bis 
existence, and determine " in one way, and the 
other," upon some of his most original features, the 
public may bo excused for not knowing more about 
his poems than they do at present. That they desire 
to know more is apparent from many circumstances, 
and partly from the fact of the last edition of his 
works, in two volumes, having been disposed of in 
a few months. Probably the edition was not large; 
such, however, is the result after thirteen years. 

The name of Alfred Tennyson is pressing slowly, 
calmly, but surely, — with certain recognition but no 
loud shouts of greeting, — from the lipa of the dis- 
cerners of poets, of whom there remain a few, even in 


the cast-inn ages,&long die Upa of the kss iofonned 
public, " to its own place " ia tfae stony house of 
names. That it is the name of a tme poet, the 
drowsy public exerts itself to acknowledge ; testify- 
ing with a heavy hRing of the eyelid, to its con- 
sciousness of a new light in one of the nearer 
sconces. This poet's public is certainly awake to hitn, 
although you wonld not think so. And this public's 
poet, GtandiDg upon the recognition of his own 
genius, begins to feel the groond &rm beneath bis 
feet, after no worse persecution than is comprised in 
those charges of aSectation, quaintness, and man- 
nerism, which were bleated down the ranks of the 
innocent " siltie " critics as they went one after 
another to water. Let the toleration be chronicled 
to the honor of England.* And whoknows? — There 
may be hope from this, and a few similar instances 
of misprision of the high treason of poetry, that our 
country may conclude her grand experience of a suc- 
cession of poetical writers unequalled in the modern 
world, by learning some ages hence to know a poet 
when she sees one.^ Certainly if we looked only to 
the peculiar genius of Teonyson, with the eyes of 
our forefathers, and some others rather nearer to our 
own day, we should find it absolutely worthy of 

• Onu ticppllon, It leut, gUnuld ho nalin^. In t^33 a philoHiplllGkl crJIiciim 
nppi.iifinl on TninjiDn, in Ihn " Monlhlj Ropoaiwry " wrillen by W. J. Foi. 
xlilcli unlmtiuiliigly reMgaiiail tila genlm. 


being either Btarred or stoned, or as Shelley said of 
Keats, "hooted into the grave." 

A very striking remark was made in the Times, 
(December 26th, 1842), with reference to the fate 
and progress of true poets in the mind of the public. 
Alluding to " the noble fragment of ' Hyperion,'" the 
writer says, " Strange as it may appear, it is no less 
certain that the half-finished works of this young, 
miseducated, and unripe genius, have had the greatest 
influence on that which is now the popular poetry. 
In the eyes of the ' young England ' of poets, as in 
those of Shelley — 

' The soul of Adoraia. lite a star, 
BeBcODfl from the abode where the immortala are.' 

" What a text," pursues the same writer, "for a 
dissertation on the mutability of popular taste I" 
True indeed ; but we must not be tempted into it, 
at present. Objecting to the expressions of "mis- 
educated " and "unripe," as only applicable to the 
errors in " Endymion" and his earlier poems ; and to 
" half-finished " as only applicable (we believe this 
is correct ?) to " Hyperion," there can be no sort of 
doubt of the influence. But there is this peculiarity 
attached to it, one which stands alone in the history, 
certainly of all modern influences. It is, that he has 
not had a single mechanical imitator. There is an 
excellent reason for this. A mechanical imitation of 

8 ALFBED TE5'CreO>. 

style, or by choice of Bimilar subjects, would not bear 
any resemblance to Keats ; no one would recognise 
the intended imitation. When somebody expressed 
his surprise to Sheiiey, that Keats, who was not very 
conversant with the Greek language, could write ao 
finely and classically of their gods and goddesses, 
Shelley replied " He was a Greek." We may also 
refer to what Landor has said of him, in the paper 
headed with that gentleman's name in Vol. I. of this 
present work. The writings of Keats are saturated 
and instinct with the purest inspiration of poetry ; 
his mythology is full of ideal passion; his divinities 
are drawn as from "the life," nay, from their inner 
and essential life; his enchantments and his "faery 
land " are exactly like the moat lovely and truthful 
records of one who has been a dweller among them 
and a participator in their mysteries ; and his descrip- 
tions of pastoral scenery, are often as natural and 
simple as they are romantic, and tinged all over with 
ideal beauty. Admitting ell the faults, errors in 
taste, and want of design in his earliest woiks, but 
laying our hands with full faith upon his " Lamia," 
"Isabella," "The Eve of St. Agnes," the four 
"Odes " in the same collection, and the fragment of 
" Hyperion," we unhesitatingly say that there is no 
poet, ancient or modern, upon whom the title of 
" Divine " can be more appropriately conferred than 
upon Keats. While the " Satanic School " was in 


its giory, it is no great wonder that WordswortU | 
should have been a constant liiughing-stock, and 
Keats an object for contemptuous disniisaal to the 
tomb. It miiBt, however, be added that the marked 
neglect of the public towards the latter has continued 
down to the present day. The pure Greek wine of 
Keats has been set aside for the thin gruel of Kirk 
White. But if there be faith in the pure Ideal, and 
in the progress of intelligence and refinement, the 
ultimate recognition of Keats by the public will cer- 
tainty follow that of the " lit audience " which he j 
will ever continue to possesa. Of all the numerous j 
imitators of Lord Byron, not one now remains. And , 
this may be mentioned as a quiet commentary upon his 
aupercilioua fling at the superior genius of John Keats. 
How it should happen that llie iiifluencer of so 
many spirits of the present time should himself have 

jen left to the ecstatic solitude of his own charmed I 
iiores and *' faery lands forlorn," while those very ' 
^iritsbave each and all of them made some passage 
r themselves into the public mind, is one of those 

roblems which neither the common fate of origina- 
i, the obduracy or caprice of the public, the cling- J 
Rig poison of bygone malice and depreciation, nor * 
Ae want of sufScient introduction and championship 

a the part of living appreciators, can furnish a per- 
ffcctly satisfactory solution. Such, however, is the 

iCt at this very time. 

fl 5 


We have said that Keats has had no imitators ; of 
nhat nature, then, has been his influeace upon the 
poetry of the present day ? It has been spiritual in 
its ideality ; it has been classical in its revivification 
of the forms and images of the antique, which he 
inspired with a new soul; it has been romantic in 
its spells, and dreams, and legendary associations j 
and it has been pastoral in its fresh gatherings from 
the wild forests and fields, and as little as possible 
from the garden, and never from the hot-house and 
the fiower-shows. His imagination identified itself 
with the essences of things, poetical in themselves, 
and he acted as the interpreter of all this, by words 
which eminently possess the prerogative of expres- 
sive form and colour, and have a sense of their own 
by which to make tliemselves understood. Who 
shall imitate these peculiarities of genius ? It is not 
possible. But kindred spirits will always recognize 
the voice from other spheres, will hail the " vision, 
and the faculty divine," come from whom it may, 
will have their own inherent impulses quickened to 
look into their own hearts, and abroad upon nature 
and mankind, and to work out the purposes of their 

How much of the peculiar genius of Keats is 
visible in Alfred Tennyson, must have been apparent 
to all those who are familiar with their writings ; and 
yet it is equally certain that Tennyson, so far from 


King an imitator of any one, is undoubtedly one of 
the most original poets that ever lived, Wordsworth 
I had many imitators, some of whom have been 
blembly successful, — especially in the simplicity. 
IFhey thought /hat was the grand secret. A few wboj 
&ad genuine ideas have been more worthy followenij 

F the great poet of profound sentiment. Tennyso 
ibas also had followers ; but only such as have felt 
airit, nor is he likely to have any mere imitators, 
for the dainty trivialities and mannerism of hia early 
Bproductions have been abandoned, and now let those 
mitate who can. They must have some fine poetical 
^elements of their own in order to be at all successful. 
If a matter-of-fact philosopher who prided himself 
Bupon the hardness of his head, and an exclusiraj 
■faculty of understanding actual things, were 
kpply to us for the signification of the wordtV 
pPoetry," we could not do better than thrust into! 
bia hand, widely opened for the expected brick, one 
F Alfred Tennyson's volumes. His poetry is poetry 
, the intense sense, and admits of no equivocal 
Idefinitions. The hard-headed realist might perhaps . 
lecept Macaulay'e " Lays of Ancient Rome," asd 
wd martial music, (with the help of a little prompt- 
■ing from a friend of some imagination,) or Mr. 1 

Henry Taylor's " Phihp van Artevelde" as exceK 
■tent steady thinkings or a considerable portion J 
seven of Wordsworth's works as sound good sense,! 



though in verse, (a great admiesion); but if he 
did not understand Tennyson's poema to be 
" Poetry," he would not be very likely to misuii- 
derstand them for anything else. The essence 
and element of them are poetry. The poetry of 
the matter strikes through the manner. The Art 
stands up in his poems, self-proclaimed, and not aa 
any mere modification of thought and language, but 
the operation of a separate and definite power in the 
human faculties, A similar observation attaches 
itself to the poetry of Shelley, to the later produc- 
tions of Keats, to certain poema of Coleridge."! But 
Tennyson and Shelley, more particularly, walk in the 
common daylight in their "singing clothes;" they 
are siUer-voiced when they ask for salt, and say 
" Good-morrow to you" in a cadence. They each 
have a poetical dialect; not such a one as Words- 
worth deprecated when he overthrew a. system ; not 
a conventional poetical idiom, but the very reverse of 
it — each poet fashioning his phrases upon hia own 
individuality; and speaking as if he were making a 
language then, for the first time, under those ' purple 
eyes' of the muse, which tinted every syllable as it 
wa3 uttered, with a separate benediction. 

Perhaps the first spell cast by Mr. Tennyson, 
the master of many spells, he cast upon the ear. 
His power as a lyrical versifier is remarkable. The 
; ilow softly or roll nobly to his pen ; as 


I well one as the other. He can gather up his strength, 
like a serpent, in the gleaming coil of a line ; or dart 
it out straight and free. Kay, he will wrile you a 
poem with nothing in it except music, and as if its 
uiuaic were everything, it shall charm your soul. Be 
this said, not in reproach, — but in honour of him and 
of the English language, for the learned sweetness of 
his numbers. Tiie Italian lyrists may take counsel, 
or at once enjoy, — 

But if sweetness of melody, and richness of har- 
mony be the most exquisitely sensuoua of Tennyson's 
characteristics, he is no less able to " pipe to the 
itpirit ditties of no tone," for certainly his works are i 
iqually characterized by their thoughtful grace, I 
depth of sentiment, and ideal beauty. And he not 
only has the most musical words at his command 
(without having recourse to exotic terminologies) 
ubut he possesses the power of conveying a sense of 
lolonr, and a precision of outline by means of words, 
Ct an extraordinary degruc. In music and colour he 
equalled by Shelley ; but in form, clearly de- 
li with no apparent effort, and no harsh shades or 
Uies, Tennyson stands unrivalled. 
His ideality is both adornative and creative, al- 
h up to this period it is ostensibly rather the 
mer than the latter. His ideal faculty is eilhei* 


satisfied with an exquiBitely delicate Arabesqi 
paioting, or clears the ground before hi 
melt and disperse all other objects into a suitable 
atmosphere, or aerial perspective, while he takes 
horse on a passionate impulse, as in some of his 
ballads which seem to have been panted through 
without a single pause. This ia the casein " Ori- 
ana," in" Locksley Hal],"in "The Sisters," 8tc. Or,at 
other times, selecting some ancient theme, he stands 
collected and self-contained, and rolls out with an 
impressive sense of dignity, orbafter orb of that grind 
melancholy music of blank verse which leaves long 
vibrations in the reader's memory ; as in " Ulysses," 
the divine "CEnone," or the " Morte D'Arthur." 
The idea of the death, or fading away of Fairy-land, 
allegoricaily conveyed in the latter poem, is appa- 
rently the main basis of the design, and probably 
original; but it is observable that Tennyson scarcely 
ever invents any elaborate design of moving charac- 
ters. The two other poems just named, with the 
"Lord of Burleigh," "Lady Claie," "Dora," "Go- 
diva," and most of those which contain human 
character in a progressive story, are taken from 
various sources ; but they are taken by a master- 
hand, and infused with new life and beauty, new 
thought and emotion. The same peculiarity as to 
ground-plot is observable in Shakspere and Chaucer, 
who never invented their subjects or stories; but 


as to i 

filled them up as nobody else ever had done, or could 
do. It was exactly the converse with Scott, who 
invented nearly all his stories, but borrowed mate- 
rials to BU tbeoi up from all possible sources. Ten- 
ayeon does not appear to possess much inventire 
construction. He has burnt his epic, or this would 
-have settled the question. We would almost venture 
to predict that he will never write another; nor 
a five-act tragedy, nor a long Heroic poem. Why 
should he ? 

Alfred Tennyson may be considered generally 
under four different aspects, — developed separately or 
in collective harmony, according to the nature of 
his subject — that is to say, as a poet of fairy-land 
and enchantment; as a poet of profound sentiment 
in the affections (as Wordsworth is of the intellect 
and mora! feelings); as a painter of pastoral 
nature; and as the delineator and representer of 
tragic emotions, chiefly with reference to one particu- 
lar passion. 

With regard to the first of these aspects of his 
genius, it may be admitted at the outset that Tenny- 
son is not the portrayer of individual, nor of active 
practical character. His characters, with few excep- 
tions, are generalizations, or refined abstractions, 
clearly developing certain thoughts, feelings, and 
forms, and bringing them home to all competent sym- 
pathies. This is almost exclusively the case in the 



first volume, published in 1830. Thosecritics, there- 
fore, who have seized upon the poet's early loves— his 
Claribels, Lilians, Adelines, Madelines— and com- 
paring them with real womeu,and the lady-loves of" 
the actual world, have declared that they were not 
natural beings of flesh and blood, have tried them by 
a false standard. They do not belong to the flesh- 
and-blood class. There is no such substance in 
them. They are creatures of the elements of poetry. 
And, for that reason, they have a sensuous life of 
their own ; as far removed from ordinary bodily con- 
dition as from pure spirit. They are transcendentalisms 
of the senses; examplesof the Homeric eiS[nAa,or rather 
— if we may venture to trace the genealogical history 
of Buch fragile creatures — the descendants of those 
ciEiaXa, as modified by the influence of the romantic 
ages. Standing or seated, flying or floating, laughing 
or weeping, sighing or singing, pouting or kissing, 
they are lovely underbodies, which no German critic 
I would for a moment hesitate to take to his visionary 
arms; but we are such a people for "beef." We 
cry aloud for soul — we want more soul — we want to 
be inspired — and the instant anything is floated 
before our ken which might serve as an aerial guide 
to the Elysian Valley, or the Temple of the Spiriti 
then we instantly begin to utter the war-cry of 
"dreamy folly!" "mystical mystery!" and urged by 
the faith (the beef) that is in us, coniinue our lowing 

■- the calf, that surely cometh, but cannot satisfy i 

r belter cravings. 

Continuing our inquiries into the fruits of Tenny- 
san's early excursions in dream-land, we perceive that I 
he was inclined, even when upon commoner ground, /J 
to accept the fantasy of things, for the things them- 
selves. His Muse was his own Lady of Shalott, — she 
was metamorphosed into the Merman and the Mer- 
maid, and reuniting at the bottom of the sea, lay 
swelling with the sense of ages beneath enormous 
growths upon the surface, in the form of the Kraken, 
Why this latter poem should have been omitted in the 
present collection puzzles and annoys us as much as 
his insertion of "the Goose," and one or two other 
such things. But nothing in this class of subjects is 
more remarkable, than the power he possesses of com-1 
municating to simple incidents and objects of reality, ' 
a preternatural spirit as part of the enchantment of the 
scene. Of this kind, in the dim and desolate chamber 
of the moated grange, where Mariana, in the anguish 
of mingled hope and despair, moaned away her dreary 
life — of this kind, to her morbid fancy, was the blue 
fly that "sung i' the pane;" and the mouse that 
"behind themoulderingwainscotsbrieked." We have 
heard it asked — as such qucstious always are asked by , 
numbers — what more there was in this than the mere 1 
details of a description of squalidness and desertion? I 
The best answer was recently made by * * 


" Why," said he, " don't you know that this ghastly 
fly had been bred of a. corpse — and knew it ? As for 
the mouse, it bad clearly been the poor starved niece 
of a witch, and the witcli had murdered her, her 
soul passing into the body of a mouse by reason of 
foul relationship." This, at least, was acceptinir 
a suggestion at full. In such a spirit of imaginative 
promptitude and coincidence should such things be 
read, or nothing will come of the reading. 

" Old facn glimmcr'd ihrough tbe doora^ 
Old foouiejis (rod the upper floors, 
Old roices called bet from nithaat '." 

But since " the love sky raining" in the autumn 
eve, when the white-robed dying form of the Lady 
of Shalott floated in the boat towards the many- 
towered palaces of the Knights, a marked change has 
come over the genius of this poet with regard to his 
female characters. Instead of the scions of the fairy- 
race, most of whom seem to have been the poet's 
" cousin " — a consanguinity which evidently haunts 
him — wo had in the volume of 1832, some equally 
beautiful women, such as the " Miller's Daughter," 
" Margaret," and the proud " Lady Clara Vere de 
Vere;" white in the volume last given to the public, 
there are several more, and not a single additional 
sylph. Hero wo find him not only awake to the 
actual world, but awake with a set of totally new 
experiences. In no writer is the calm intensity of pure 



ffection, both in its extreme tenderness and con- 
tinuity, more exquisitely portrayed, than in the 
poema of the " Miller's Daughter," " Dora," and 
the "Gardener's Daughter." They are steeped in 
the very sweetest fountains of the human heart. 

In the description of pastoral nature in England, no 
one has ever surpassed Tennyson. The union of 
fidelity to nature and extreme beauty is scarcely to 
be found in an equal degree in any other writer. 
There may sometimes be a tone of colour, and the 
sense of a sustained warmth in the temperature, 
which is rather Italian ; and this is a peculiarity of 
our poets, who invariably evade notice or conscious- 
ness of the four eeasons in each day, which is a 
characteristic of our climate. The version which all 
English poets give of " Spring," more especially, is 
directly at variance with what everybody feels and 
knows of that bitter season in this country. But 
allowing for this determination to make the best of 
V'Wfaat we have, no poet more closely adheres to 
■iaatnre. He is generally as sweet, and fresh, and 
faithful in his drawing and colouring of a landscape, 
as the prose pastorals of Miss Mitford, which ia 
saying the utmost we can for a possessor of those 
qualifications. But besides this, Tennyson idealises, 
as a poet should, wherever his subject needs it — not 
so much as Shelley and Keats, but as much as the 
occasion will bear, without undue preponderance. 


interfering with the harmony of his general 
F design. His landscapes often have the truthful idea- 
lity of Claude, combined with the refined reality of 
, Calcott, or the homely richoesa of Gainsborough. 
The landscape-painting of Keats nas more like the 
back grounds of Titian and Annibal Carracci ; as 
that of Shelley often resembled the pictures of Tur- 
ner. We think the extraordinary power of language 
in Shelley sometimes even accomplished, not only 
the wild brilliancy of colouring, but the apparently 
impossible effect, by words, of the wonderful aerial 
perspective of Turner — as where he speaks of the 
loftiest star of heaven " pinnacled dim in the intense 
inane." But with Tennyson there is no tendency to 
inventiveness in his descriptions of scenery ; he con- 
|tents himself with the loveliness of the truth seen 
jjlhrough the medium of such emotion as belongs to 
'the subject he has in hand. But as these emotions 
are often of profound passion, sentimeut, reflection, 
or tenderness, it may well be conceived that his 
painting is of that kind which is least common in 
art. The opening of "CEnone" is a good example, 
and is a fine prelude to love's delirium, which fol- 
lows it. 

" There ties a vsle ia Idn, loTolier 

Thin all the vallsyBof Ionian hills. 

The Bwimmin; TUpour alapea albwait the glen, 

FulB fonh an arm and areepa&om pine to |iiae. 


Ani^ loitors, alovt; drawD. Oa either bind 
The lawns and meadow -ledges midwaj down 
lUng rich in flowers, and (ur below them roaia 
The long hrooli falling thro' the olav'n ratine 

If Alfred Tennyson became awake to the actnal 
t world ill his second volume of 1832, liis publication 
■ in 1843 showed him more completely so; awake 
■ftfter the storm, after the wrecks, the deepest ex- 
Kriences of life. In (he ten years' interval he baa 
llnown and suffered. So far fiom any of his private 
mal feelings being paraded before the public, 
neither directly, or by means of characters which 
gverybody shall recognise as identical, after the 
bshion of Lord Byron, there is a withdrawal 
rom every identification, and generally a veil of 
ideality cast over the whole. Certainly Tenny- 
■son is not at all dramatic. That be can be intensely 
"tragic, in pure emotion and deep passion of expres- 
sion, we shall presently show ; that he has great 
power of concentration, will be equally apparent ; and 
that in his powerful monodrama of "St. Simeon 
StyUtes," and in the various imaginative or fanciful 
personages he introduces, he presents full evidence of 
the faculty of self-absorption in the identity of other 
idiosyncrasies, we think also to be incontestible. 
Still, he only selects a peculiar class of characters — 
those in whom it shall not be requisite to dispossess 


himBelf of beauty (SlylUes being tlie only excep- 
tion); nor can he speak without singing. His style 
of blank verse is elegiac, epic, heroic, or suited 
to the idyl; and not at all dramatic. His charac- 
ters, as we have saiJ before, are generalizations 
or abstractions ; they pass before the imagination, and 
often into the very centre of the heart and all its 
emotions ; they do not stand forth conspicuous in 
bone or muscle, nor in solidity, nor roundness, nor 
substantial identity. They have no little incidental 
touches of character, and we should not know them 
if we met them out of his poetry. They do not eat 
and drink, and sneeze. One never thought of that 
before ; and it seems an oSence to hint at such a 
thing concerning them. But besides ail this, our 
poet cannot laugh outright in his verses; not joyously, 
and with self-abandonment. His comic, grotesque, 
or burlesque pieces, are neither natural nor wild. 
They are absolute failures by dint of ingenuity. His 
"Amphion" and "the Goose" have everything but 
thai which such attempts most need — animal spirits. 
There is something intermediate, however, which he 
can do, and which is ten thousand times more un- 
common, — that of an harmonious blending of the 
poetical and familiar, so that the latter shall neither 
destroy the former, nor vex the taste of the reader. 
As an instance of this, we would quote " Will Water- 
proors Lyrical Monologue," which is perfection ; as 



also were Shelley's poetical " Letter to ," and liis 

"Julian and Maddalo." Of the constiuctive power, 
and the distribution of action required in a dramatic 
composition, there is no need to speak ; but it is time 
to consider the tragic faculties of our author, and his 
power over the passions by description. 

The frequent tendency to the development or illus- 
tration of tragic emotion has been less noticed than 
any other important feature of Tennyson's poetry, 
In his first volume (1830) we find a "Dirge;" the 
"Death of Love;" the "Ballad of Oriana ;" the 
"Supposed Confession;" and "Mariana;" all of 
which are full of the emotions and thoughts which 
lead directly, if they do not involve, tragic results. 
The same may be said of the following poems in the 
second volume (1832): — the "Lady of Shalott;" 
"Eleanore;" "Sappho" (called "Fatiraa" in the 
new edition !) ; " CEnone ;" the " New Year's Eve ;" 
and the "Sisters." Upon this last-named poem we 
will venture a few remarks and suggestions. 

"The Sisters" is a ballad poem of six stanzas, 
each of only four lines, with two lines of a chorus 
sung by the changeful roaring of the wind "in 
turret and tree" — which is made to appear conscious 
of the passions that are at work. In this brief space 
is comprised, fully told, and with many suggestions 
% deep tragedy. 
!he story is briefly this. A youthful earl of great 


personal attractions, seduces a young lady of family, 
deserts her, and she dies. Her sister, probably an 
elder sister, and not of equal beauty, had, apparently, 
also loved the earl. When, therefore, slie found that 
not only had tier love been in vain, but her self- 
sacrifice in favour of her sister had only led to ibe 
misery and degradation of the latter, she resolved on 
the earl's destruction. She exerted herself to the 
utmost to attract hie regard; she "liated him with 
the hate of hell," but, it is added, that she " loved 
his beauty passing well," for the earl " was fair to 
see," Abandoning herself in every way to the ac- 
complishment of her purpose, she finally lulled him 
to sleep, with his head in her lap, and tlien stabbed 
him "through and through." She composed and 
smoothed the curls upon "his comely head," ad- 
miring to see that " he looked so grand when he was 
dead ;" and wrapping him in a winding sheet, she 
carried him to his proud ancestral hall, and "laid 
him at his mother's feet." 

We have no space to enter into any psychological 
examination of the peculiar character of this sister; 
with regard, however, to her actions, the view that 
seems most feasible, and the most poetical, if not 
equally tragic, is that she did not actually commit 
the self-abandonment and murder; but went mad on 
the death of her sister, and imagined in her delirium 
all tiiat has been related. But " read the part " liow 



we may, there never was a deeper thing told in briefer 

The third volume of" Tennyson's Poems," (that is, 
the Vol. [I. of the new edition last issued), contains 
several tragic subjects. The one most penetrating 
to the heart, the most continuous, and most perse- 
vered in with passionate intensity, so tliat it becomea 
ineradicable from the sensibility and the memory, is 
" Locksley Hall." The story is very simple ; not 
narrative, but told by the soliloquy of anguish poured 
out by a young man amid the hollow weed-grown 
courts of a ruined mansion. He loved passionalely ; 
his love was returned ; and the girl married another, 
— a dull, every-day sort of husband. The story is a 
familiar one in the world — too familiar ; but in Tenny- 
son's hands it becomes invested with yet deeper life, a 
vitality of hopeless desolation. The sufferer invoking 
his betrayer, her beauty and her falsehood, by the 
memory of" their former happiness, says that such 
a memory is the very crown of sorrow : — 

" DniEi' tbf memories, lest tfaoa laara it, lest thj lienrt he put to 
, proof, 
le dead uahsppy oigbt, snd when the tain is on (lie roof. 

like a dog be banta in dreama, and Ihou art alaring at the will, 
Where lbs dying nigbt-lamp Sicken, and the Bhadows rise and fall, 

Then a baad aball pass before thee, pointing to hia drunkeu steep. 
To tbj vcida«'ed mamage-pillovr, Co the (ears that tboa ebalt weep. 






fihslt hear tb 



never !'' wbiapeted by 





^^L Aod 



tLe distance 

in ibe Tinging of tbine ears ; 

■ .. 


Bhall re 

I thee 

looMng ■ncient kindnesa on 



Oreimilar character and depth of tone is the poem 
of " Lady Clara Vere de Vere," who impelled to 
Buicide one of the victims of her heartless beauty. 
The long-drawn music of her very name is suggestive 
of the proud pedigree to which she was ready to 
offer up any sacrifice. For continuity of affectionate 
tenderness and deep pathos in the closing scene, we 
should mention " The Lord of Burleigh," and the idyl 
of " Dora," — the style oF both being studiously artless, 
the latter, indeed, having a Scriptural simplicity 
which presents a curious contrast to the poet's early 
manner. In the poem of " Love and Duty " there is 
a general tone of suppressed emotion, and violent 
effort against nature which is deeply painful. The 
equal tenderness and bitterness of the anguish renders 
it the more difficult to receive with that feeling of 
resignation and sense of right which one would wish for, 
on such heart-breaking occasions. It is to be feared 
that some conventionalities have been erected into 
undue tyrannies over the noblest and most impas- 
sioned impulses, although the poet, not choosing 
to be more explicit in his story, or its suggestions, 
may not have intended to illustrate any such principle. 



^"- spi 

'be clear course of feeling in the two preceding 
poems, whicli are equally pathetic and concluaive, 
will generally be prefeiabte, even to the more intensely 
tragic emotion of this latter one. 

It remains to offer a remark on two or three other 
hich also form the most striking features of 
the present collection. 

With respect to "(Enoae," it is an exqaieitely 
successful attempt of the poet to infuse his own 
beating heart's blood into the pate blind statues of 
the antique times ; and loses no jot of the majesty, 
while the vitality informs the grace. It is not sur- 
passed by anything of the kind in Keats, or Shelley, 
or Laudor. The " Morte D'Arthur" precisely re- 

iraea the design of the Greek revival ; and, with 

[ual success, draws back the Homeric blood and 
spirit to inspire a romantic legend. 

Of the "Ulysses" we would say that the mild 
dignity and placid resolve — the steady wisdom after 
the storms of life, and with the prospect of future 
storms — the melancholy fortitude, yet kingly resigna- 
tion to his destiny which gives him a restless passion 
for wandering — the unaffected and unostentatious 
modesty and self-conscious power, — the long softened 1 
shadows of memory cast from the remote vistas of I 
practical knowledge and experience, with a suffusing 
tone of ideality breathing over the whole, and giving 
a saddened charm even lo the suggestion of a watery 
c 2 


grave, — all this, and much more, independent of the 
beautiful pictureequeness of the Bcenery, render the 
poem of " Ulysses " one of the most exquisite (as it 
has hiiherto heen one of the least noticed) poems in 
the language. 

It would be impossible to give that full considera- 
tion to the extraordinary poem of " St. Simeon 
Stylites," which as a work of genius it merits, with- 
out entering into complexities of the pae&ions, mind, 
and human character, under the excitement and in- 
voluntary as well as wilful hallucinations of fanaticism, 
for which we could afford no adequate space. We 
must content ourselves with saying that it is a great 
and original " study." 

There are no qualities in Tennyson more charac- 
teristic than those of delicacy and refinement. How 
very few are the poets who could equally well have 
dealt with the dangerous loveliness of the story of 
" Godiva." 

" Tbeu lied ahe to her inmost bower, and there 
CoclaBped tbe wedded englea of her belt, 
Tbo grim Eerl's gift ; but erar at a braBth 
She lingeted, looking like a summer moon 
HslMipt ia cloud : nnae she sbook ber head. 
And showered tlisrij)|]l«d ringlets ta her kueflj 
Unclad herself in baste ; adown tbe stair 
Stole on ; and like n creeping aunbeom, slid 
From pillar unto pillar, until ahe reactied 
The gatewBT, Sto," 



mind which can force up a vital flower of 
y through the heavy fermenting earth of human 
experiences, must have a deep intellectual root and 
active life. Among these experiencea we must of 
course include those inner struggles of the soul with 
its own thoughts; dealings with the revelations that 
seem to come from other states of existence ; difficult 
contests between the mortal promptings and re- 
sistances that breed so many doubts and hopes, and 
things inscrutable; and thoughts that often present 
themselves in appalling whispers, against the will 
and general tone and current of the mind, Tenny. 
son's intellectual habit is of great strength ; his 
thoughts can grow with large progressive purpose 
either up or down, and the peculiarity is that in him 
they commonly do so to " a haunting music." No 
argument was ever conducted in verse with more 
admirable power and clearness than that of the 
"Two Voices," The very poetry of it magnifies 
itself into a share of the demonstration : take away 
the poetry and the music, and you essentially diminish 
the logic. 

Though Tennyson often writes, or rather sings *" 
apparently from hia own personality, you generally 
find that he does not refer to himself, but to some 
imaginary person. He permits the reader to behold 
orkinga of his individuality, only by its reflex 


action. He comes out of himself to sing a poem, 
and goes back agaio ; or rather' sends his soDg out 
from his shadow under the leaf, as other nightingales 
do ; and refuses to be expansive to bis public, open- 
ing his heart on the hinges of music, as other poets 
do. We know nothing of him except that he is a 
poet; and this, although it is something to be sure of, 
does not help us to pronounce distinctly upon what 
may be called the mental intention of his poetry. 

Whatever he writes is a complete work : he holds 
the unity of it as firmly in his hand as his CEnone's 
Paris holds the apple — and tliere is nothing 
broken or incomplete in his two full volumes. His 
few " fragments " are entire in themselves, and sug- 
gest the remainder. But for all this unity of every 
separate poem produced by him, there is, or appears 
to be, some vacillation of intention, in his poetry as 
a mass. To any question upon the character of his 
early works, the reply rises obviously, — they are 
from dream-land ; and of the majority of those 
which he has since produced, the same answer 
should be returned. The exceptive instances are 
like thoee of one who has not long awakened from 
his Dreams. But what dreams these have been — of 
what loveliness of music, form, and colour, and what 
thoughlfulness — our foregoing remarks have very 
faintly expressed and declared. In the absence of any 



fflarked and perceptible design in his poetical faitb 
mrposes, Tennyson is not singular. It would 
be equally difficult to decide the same question with 
regard to several others ; nor perhaps is it necessary 
to be decided. As the matter rests in thie instance, 
we have the idea of a poet (his volumes in our hands) 
who is not in a fixed attitude ; not resolute as to | 
means, not determined as to end — sure of his power, 
sure of his activity, but not sure of his objects. 
There appears to be some want of the sanctification I 
of a spiritual consistency; or a liability at intervals j 
to resign himself to the " Lotos Eaters." We seem 
to look, on while a man stands in preparation for some I 
loftier course — while he tries the edge of his various | 
arms and examines the wheels of his chariots, and i 
meditates, full of youth and capability, down the 
long slope of glory. He constantly gives us the impres- 
sion of something greater than his works. And this I 
must be his own soul. He may do greater things than 1 
he has yet done; but we do not expect it. If he j 
do no more, he lias already done enough to deserve I 
the lasting love and admiration of posterity. 

Alfred Tennyson is the sob of a clergyman ofl 

Lincolnshire. He went through the usual routine of a " 

University education at Trinity College, Cambridge. 

He has brothers and sisters living, who are all pos- 

1 of superior attainments. Avoiding general 

Isociety, he would prefer to sit up all night talking j 


with a friend y or else to sit '' and think alone." Be- 
yond a very small circle he is never to be met. There 
is nothing eventful in his biography, of a kind which 
would interest the public; and wishing to respect the 
retirement he unaffectedly desires, we close the 
present paper. 


*' Yes, from the records of my youthful state. 
And from the lore of bards and sages old, 

From whatsoe'er my wakened thoughts create, 

• •••••• 

Have I collected langu^e to unfold 
Truth to my countrymen." 


" Arma, virumque, kc." 


'^ And in triumphant chair was set on high 
The ancient glorie of the Roman peers." 



'homas Babington Macaulay 19 the eon of J 
Zaciiary Macaulay, well known as the friend of I 
Wiiberforce, and, though himself an African 
chant, one of the most ardent aholitionisls ofslaverjr.J 
In 1618, T. B. Macaulay became a metnher ofl 
Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took his Ba- 
chelor's degree in 1822. He distinguished himself l 
as a student, having obtained a scholarship, twice I 

gained the Chancellor's medal for English verse, and J 
llso gained the second Craven Scholarship, the 1 
highest honour in classics which the University con- 
fers. Owing to his dislike of mathematics, he did 
not compete for honours at graduation, but neverthe- 

sss he obtained a Fellowship at the October com- J 

letition open to graduates of Trinity, which bel 
Appears to have resigned before his subsequent de-.l 

larture for India. He devoted much of his tim 


to the " Union " debating Society, where he vras 
reckoned an eloquent speaker. 

Mr. Macaulay studied at Lincoln's Inn, and was 
called to the bar in 1826. lo the eame year his 
" Essay on Milton " appeared in the " Edinburgh 
Review ;" and out of Lord (then Mr.) Jeffrey's admi- 
ration of that paper, arose an intimate friendship. 
Macaulay, visiting Scotland soon afterwards, went 
the circuit with Mr. Jeffrey. His connection with 
the " Edinburgh Review " has continued at intervals 
ever since. 

By the Whig administration Mr. Macaulay was ap- 
pointed Commissioner of Bankrupts. He commenced 
his parliamentary career about the same period, as 
member for Colne in the Reform Parliament of 1832, 
and again for Leeds in 1834, at which time he was 
secretary to the India Board. His seat was, however, 
soon relinquished, for in the same year he was 
appointed member of the Supreme Council in Cal- 
cutta, under the East India Company's ne^v charter. 

Arriving in Calcutta, in September, 1834, Mr. 
Macaulay shortly assumed an important trust in 
addition to his seat at the Council. At the request 
of the Governor-General, Lord William Bentinck, he 
became President of the commission of five, ap- 
pointed to frame a penal code for India ; and the 
principal provisions of this code have been attributed 
to him. One of its enactments, in particular, was 




a uapopular among the English inhabitants, as to 
receive the appellation of the " Black Act." It 
abolished the right of appeal from the Local Courts 
to the Supreme Court at the Presidency, hitherto 
■ delusively enjoyed by Europeans, and put them on 
(the same footing with natives, giving to both an 
equal right of appeal to the highest Provincial 
Courts. Inconvenience and delay of justice had 
been caused by the original practice, even when India 
was closed against Europeans in general, but such 
practice was obviously incompatible with the rights 
and property of the natives under the new system 
of opening tile country to general reeort. This mea- 
sure of equal justice, however, exposed Mr. Macau- 
. lay, to whom it was universally attributed, to out- 
l rageous personal attacks in letters, pamphlets, and at 
public meetings. 

The various reforms and changes instituted by 
Lord W. Bentinck and Lord Auckland, were advo- 
cated in general by Mr. Macaulay. He returned to 
England in 1838. 

Mr. Macaulay was elected member for Edinbui^h 
on the hberal interest in 1839 ; and being appointed 
Secretary at War, he was re-elected the following 
year, and again at the general election in IS'll, No 
review of his political career is here intended ; 
, although in relation to literatm'e, it should be men- 
ioned that he opposed Mr. Serjeant Talfourd's Copy- 


right Bill, and was the principal agent id defeating 
it As a public speaker, he usually displays exten- 
sive information, close reasoning, and eloquence ; 
and has recently bid fail to rival the greatest names 
among our English orators. His conversation in 
private is equally brilliant and instructive. 

Mr, Macaulay may fairly be regarded as the first 
critical and historical essayist of the time. It is not 
meant to be inferred that there are not other writers 
who display as much understanding and research, as 
great, perhaps greater capacity of appreciating excel- 
lence, as much acutenees and humour, and a more 
subtle power of exciting, or of measuring, the efforts 
of the intellect and the imagination, besides possess- 
ing an equal mastery of language in their own pecu- 
liar style ; but there is no other writer who com- 
bines so large an amount of all those qualities, 
with the addition of a mastery of style, at once 
highly classical and most extensively popular. Hia 
style is classical, because it is so correct ; and it is 
popular because it must be intelligible without effort 
to every educated understanding. 

In the examination of the " Critical and Historical 
Essaya" of Mr. Macaulay, it would have been our 
wish, as the most genial and agreeable proceeding, to 
commence with that unqualified admiration which so 
lai^e a portion of his labours justly merits. But 
unfortunately he has written a " Preface." It 



I thi 

■cely occupies two pages, yet presents a etum- 
tliug-block in our course ; and, in tliat spirit of 
free discussion adopted by Mr. ilacaulay himself 
throughout his volumes, he will pardon our stating 
srtain objections which we cannot quietly overcome < 
our own minds. 

I EngUali li 

L could mal 

'^^^^V.printed in 

^^V This, 

'he author of these Essays u 

ipeatedly nsfused to let then 

licute ihBt he thonght thi 

English literature. Nor vrould hi 

litation of pieces so imperfect, 

could malie republication impoa 

su seiuiblB of their defeots, thi 
appear in a form which might s«eni 
m worlbj of a permanent place in 
DOW gi'i his consent to the repub- 
if, hj withholding liia coiuenl, he 
ible. But aa thej hava been re- 


a than once in tbe United Slates," &c. 


This, therefore, being unfortunately the state of J 
affairs, of course we expect to be told that the author j 
has now carefully revised productions which he had] 
been so anxious to suppress from a sense of their in- 

'' No attempt bus been mada to remodel nnf of the pieces which siad 
contained in tLeae volumes. Even the criticism on Milton, t 
was written when llie aothor was fteah from college, and uihici con- I 
taint scarcely a paragraph tad as his malvred judgment appmvtt, J 

111 remains oTarloaded with gaudj aud ungraceful ornament." 

Nevertheless, in this condition Mr, Macaulay 
reprints his Essays, now that, whether willingly or 
unwillingly, he sends them forth in the form which 
■■authors adopt who think their works worthy of a i 


irmanent place in literature. An odd compliment, 
by the way, to the admiration expressed by Lord 
Jeffrey, of this very paper. How are we to proceed ? 
The critical author has placed all his fraternity in a. 
very anomalous, not to say rather grotesque position. 
For if we object to anything, especially in the essay 
on Milton, the author will have been before-hand 
with US — he knew all that himself; and if we admire 
anything, he may smile and say, "Ah, I thought 
pretty well of it myself when I was a very young 

But these Essays have gone forth to do their work 
in the world, and the Essay on Milton, among tho'j 
rest, will exercise its appointed degree of infltience ; 
though it "contains scarcely a paragraph such s 
the author's mature judgment approves" — and, we 
will venture to add, contains certain positions which 
■ Are very mischievous to the popular mind. 

We will proceed as though no Preface had beeii4 
■rilten. Our objections shall not meddle with the 1, nor do we think Its redundancy of ornament bo I 
[prominent an annoyance as the author intimates. Oar | 
bbjections are of a more serious nature ; founded ( 
Nsnfiised views of truth and fiction, of reality and 
Ideality, and leading directly to the question of fl 
Iwhelher Shakspere and Milton ought to be regarded I 
a any respect as lunatics. 

" Perbapa aa person cnn be a poet, or can eter enjnj- poetrj, with- 


a ceitnia tmioundaeii qf m 
-^flunre oaght H> be calleil anw 

id, if anylhing which gives ao much 

The position is guarded and qualified, in the above 
quotation, but presently it comes out in all its 
fulness. The author, be it understood, explains that 
he means poetry, impassioned and imaginative 
poetry ; not mere verse- ma king, but poetry of the 
highest order. And what the world has been hitherto 
accustomed to regard in the light of an inspiration, 
the essayist wishes to teach us to consider as the 
product of an unsound mind. It is even catching, 
and those who read may rave. "The greatest of 
poets," he says, " has described it in lines which are 
valuable on account of the just notion which they 
convey of the art in which he excelled : 

" Ab imsginatian hadies fortb 
The fonnB of thinga unlmon-a, ths poet's pen 
Turns them to ahape, and gives lo airj noliiing 
A local habitutioQ aud a aame." 

Now all this, which so palpably implies creative 
- fmwer, suggests to the essayist an unsound creator. 

"These are the (rnits of the ' Gna freiuj' wbich be ascribes to 
the poet — tt 6ne freniy, doubtless, hut still a franiy. Truth, indeed, ■ 
\» essential lo poetr; ; but it ia the truth of toadnesa." 

Hid. p. e. 

Surely the young essayist must have heard of the 
Nnor'-west madness?" But he suffered himself 


to be misled by the imperfect comparison with the 
reasonings of mad people, " which are just; but the 
premises are false." A few hnes farther on, observing 
how much " a little girl is affected by the story 
of poor Red Riding-hood" he adds — " Ske knows 
that it is all false, that wolves cannot speak, that 
there are no wolves in England. Yet in spite of her 
knowledge she believes, she weeps, she trembles," 
&c. That is the point. There is no madness in the 
matter; those who are mad, do not know that their 
premises are false. With respect to poetry, it is no 
unsoundness of mind ; but the surrendering up of the 
feelings to certain operations of the mind, — which 
happens in other things besides poetry, and no one 
thinks of calling it madness. After this, come the 
usual remarks about " the despotism of the imagina- 
tion over uncultwated minds" (Greece and Rome for 
instance?) the "rude state of society," and the in- 
fluence of poetry dwindling with the " improve- 
ments" of civilisation, but " lingering longest among 
the peasantry," — all of whom are excessively addicted 
to Wordsworth and Shelley. Finally, "as the light 
of knowledge breaks in upon its exhibitions" — 
" The huea and liDeamencs of the phantoms which llie poet cnlli 
[up, grow fainter and fainter. We cannot unite the incompBlihla ttd- 
/ TODtagea of lealitj and deception, the clear diBcernment of truth and 
he eiquieita enjoyment of fiction." 

Ibid. p. 9. 

As if fiction involved no truth — no realities ! — 




i if there were Dot b. larger amount of truth la 
fiction than in any known reality. Moreover, we 
are told, and truly (in the Essay on " Moore's Life 
of Lord Byron," Vol. L page 332), that "the heart 
■ ^ man is the province of poetry, and of poetry 
I'slone." With madness, therefore, at heart, as well 
as in the head, we are in a pretty condition I It 
could hardly have been on this account that Lord 
Jeffrey was so pleased with the essay. Entertain- 
ing, as we do, the most unaffected respect for the 
" mature judgment" of Mr, Macaulay, and a sincere 
admiration of his great powers and acquirements, we 
must be permitted to express our regret — all the 
more strongly for that very respect and admiration — 
that he did not think fit to exercise them in revising 
the crude philosophy of a young gentleman " fresh 
from college," instead of sending it abroad to do its 
work, of injurious influence upon the mind of our not 
very finely frenzied puhhc — a public of itself, by 
no means disposed to regard poets or their works 
with too much estimation, except as matter of na- 
tional boasting. Once convince and fortify John 
Bull in the opinion that to read poetry and cultivate 
his imaginative faculties will render him liable to 
I jtberration of mind, and it is all over with him, and 
^the poets. He has half suspected this for a long 
Kiime : his unsoundness is already on the other side. 
KOr does our classic Essayist and right Roman lyriet 

44 T. B. HACA.nLAY. 

make an exception in favour of the mental soundness 
of Songs of the Sword — of bards and readers on 
war-steeds — of statesmen who write poetry in steel 
helmets ? 

In the same essay we are also obliged to object 
to the remark that the Prometheus of ffischylus 
"bears undoubtedly a considerable resemblance to 
the Satan of Milton," because " in both we find the 
same impatience of control, the same ferocity, the 
same unconquerable pride." At page 348 of this 
volume, we also find a comparison made with some 
of the Byronic heroes " who are sick of life, who 
are at war with society, who are supported in their 
anguish ouli/ by an unconquerable pride, resembling 
that of Prometheus on the rock, or of Satan in the 
burning marl," &'c. Here we find individual ambi- 
tion aod morbid dissatisfaction confounded with the 
loftiest sympathies — demoniac pride with the pride 
of the Champion of Humanity. On the other hand 
we have, elsewhere* an equal extravagance in the 
way of eulogium, when the " harsh, dark features of 
the Earl of Strafford" are said to have been " ennobled 
by their expression into more than the majesty of an 
antique Jupiter/' — as though there could be any 
comparison between the finest practical head, and 

* In Um Emy OB " Lard Nugniei Memoiiili ol HunjidED," lol. I. pp. Ug, 




■^e finest ideal one, which could be fair towarde 
Let it Dot be Bupposed, however, that we do not find 
much to admire in the essay on Milton — hazarcl- 
1 as such a declaration may be, after what the 
uithor has himself said of it. Having duly deliber- 
ated, however, we will venture to express great admi- 
ration of the passages on " revolution" at pp. 39, 
40, 41 ; (which we commend to Sir E. L, Bulwer's 
especial attention) and also of the character of Crom- 
well, at p. 45, 46 — which we commend to the espe- 
cial attenlion of the " authority," who seems to be bo 
short-sighted as to contemplate the exclusion of ail 
pictorial recognition of the Commonwealth from the 
new Houses of Parliament.* 

Few essays were ever sent abroad in the world 
more calculated to improve the public understanding, 
and direct its moral feeliuga aright, than those on 
"Moore's Life of Byron;" " Machiavelli," and 
" Bosweli's Life of Johnson." They contain many 
passages of sterling philosophy in the analysis 
and elucidation of character, in principles and con- 
I ditions of public and private morality, and in mat- 
I'ters of literary tasie ; all of which are set forth 
I with unanswerable arguments and admirable illua- 
f trations. Among the latter we cannot forbear no- 
ticing the equally acute and amusing remarks on 
the hypocritical public horror at Lord Byron's sepa- 


ration from his wife, and because Edmund Kean 
" had disturbed the conjugal felicity of an alder- 
man," — common occurrences, of which the world 
takes no sort of notice beyond the newspaper para- 
graphs of the day, except about once in seven years, 
and then " the public decency requires a victim," 
His remarks on Dr. Johnson are excellent, and while 
they do every justice to all the good qualities of the 
"great man" of his day, will materially assist in 
leading the public mind at last to perceive how 
constantly Dr. Johnson, in philosophy, in morals, and 
in criticism, was quite as wrong as he was pompous 
and overbearing. 

The article on Warren Hastings is a model of 
biography. It is biography of the most difficult 
kind ; that, namely, in which the character and ac- 
tions of the individual subject cannot be portrayed 
without a comprehensive history of the times in 
which he lived. Such writings are apt to be ex- 
ceedingly tedious, and in fact to present a mixture of 
two styles of composition, tliat of the historian and 
that of the biographer, fitted together as they best may 
be. But in the case before us, while the state of the 
political world, the progress of events, the aspects 
of parties, the peculiar condition of the great con- 
tinent of India, the characteristics of its various 
races, are all presented distinctly, and held con- 
stantly before the mind as they in succession change. 



I Awell into importance, or fade into obscurity, in the 
onward march of time; — so, with equal distinctness 
and constancy, is the individual Warren Hastings 
always held present to the imagination, as those 

■ events, and scenes, and characterietica acted upon 

Ibim, or he acted upon thera. The nian stands re- 
vealed in this clear picture of his circumstances and 
his actions. We do not require to be told what was 
the peculiar nature of his intellect, his moral per- 
ceptions, his temperament. These we deduce from 
the history; any occasional remark upon him in the 
way of metaphysical analysis we read as a corollary, 
and can only say, 'justso,' or 'of course.' Perhaps 
a skilful physiognomist might even pronounce on the 
features of his face after reading the whole. With 
the same skill as that displayed in presenting the 
history of his time, the men who surrounded him are 
brought on the scene. 

Of the masterly essay on " Lord Bacon " we 
must content ourselves with saying that it is in 
itself a great work of harmoniously united history, 
biography, and criticism, each of the highest class, 
and of which there is not a single page without its 
weight and value. 

Mr. Macaulay possesses great powers of logical 
criticism; a fine and manly taste and judgment; a 
quick sense of the absurd, with an acute perception 

[ of the illogical; great fairness, and love of truth 


aod justice. His prose is a model of style. It is 
sculpturesque ijy its clearness, its solidity, its Bim- 
plicity, without any mannerism or affectation, and 
by its regularity. But this regularity is not of mar- 
ble equability ; the strong and compacted sentences 
rather presenting the appearance of a Cyclopean 
wall, with the outer surface polished. Continually 
the matter is of similar character with this style, and 
a brief section contains the growth of ages. Many 
single sentences might be adduced, in which are 
compressed clearly and without crowding, the sum 
of prolonged historical records, their chief events 
and most influenlial men, and how the events and 
the men acted and re-acted upon each other. 

Mr. Macaulay has great and singular ability in 
making difficult questions clear, and the most un- 
promising subjects amusing. A good example of 
this may be found in hia review of " Soudiey's 
Colloquies on Society," where Macaulay displays 
Southey's errors and wrong-headedness, and what 
the true state of the case is with respect to the cur- 
rency, the national debt, and finance, — subjects 
which Literature had always considered as dry an 
impracticable as a rope of sand, but which in Mr. 
Macaulay's hands become not only intelligible an 
instructive, but incredibly entertaining. 

Notwithstanding the many excellent remarks on 
poets and poetical productions, occurring in the 


course of his volumes — and the acuteuese displayed, 
not only in what Mr. Macaulay says of the so- 
called " correctness " of Pope, and Addison, and 
Gray, (as though their descriptions of men and exter- 
nal nature were not far less correct than those of the 
Elizabethan poets), but in the more admiring tone he 
occasionally takes, — it might still have been doubted 
whether a writer, in whom the understanding faculty 
predominates, would be able to make that degree of 
surrender of its power, which the fullest appreciation 
of poetry requires. He might fear it would ai^ue 
" unsoundness," Howbeit, in certain remarks on 
Shelley, we see that he can make the requisite sur- 
render to one, whose poetry, of all others, needs it, 
in order to be rightly estimated. And it is a part 
of the means of forming the hest judgment of poetical 
productions to know when, and how far that faculty 
should abandon itself, and receive a dominant emotion 
as fresh material for subsequent judgment. 

The last publication of Mr. Macaulay — his "Lays 
of Ancient Rome" — may fairly be called, not an ex- 
humation of decayed materials, but a reproduction 
of classical vitality. The only thing we might 
object to, is the style and form of his metres and 
rhythms, which are not classical, but Gothic, and 
often remind us of the " Percy Reliques," There is 
no attempt to imitate the ancient metres. In other 
respects these Lays are Roman to the back-bone ; and 


where not so, they are Homeric. The events and 
subjects of the poems are chosen with an heroic 
spirit ; there is all the hard glitter of steel about the 
lines ! — their music is the neighing of steeds, and the 
tramp of armed heels ; their inspiration was the voice 
of a trumpet. 

'* And nearer fast and nearer 

Doth the red whirlwind come ; 
And loader still and still more loud. 
From anderneath that rolling cloud, 
Js heard the trumpet's war-note proud , 

The trampling, and the hum. 
And plainly and more plainly 

Now through the gloom appears, 

Far to left and far to right, 

In broken gleams of dark-blue light, 

The long array of helmets bright. 

The long array of spears." 
He * « * 

** And backward now and forward 

Wavers the deep array ; 
And on the tossing sea of steel. 
To and fro the standards reel ; 
And the victorious trumpet-peal 

Dies fitfully away. 






D 2 

** Or send to us 

Thy wit's great overplas : 

But teach us yet 
Wisely to husband it ; 
Lest we that talent spend : 
And haying once brought to an end 
That precious stock ; the store 
Of such a wit : the world should have no more." 


*' Have gentility, and scorn every man V* 

Ben Jonsox. 

" And laughter oft is but an art 
To drown the outcry of the heart." 

Hartley Coleridge. 

"Act freely, carelessly, and capriciously; as if our veins ran with quicksilver; 
and not utter a phrase but what shall come forth steeped in the very brine of 
conceit, and sparkle like salt in fire." 

'Ben Jonson, Cynthia's Revels. 



' There are some writers, whose popularity has been 

so long established, is so well deserved, and about 
the character or whose genius there is so correct a 
general impression in the mind of the public, that 
I very little more need be said about them. But these 

' are few in number. For, although it is not uncom- 

mon for the majority to be tolerably unanimous in 
its opinion of a fayourite, it certainly very rarely 
occurs that such opinion is so perfectly satisfactory 
as to leave no opportunity and no wish to offer any 
further comment upon the individual or his works. 
Such, however, is the case with regard to Thomas 

yHood ; and almost in an equal degree as to the late 
Theodore Hook, though the men are very different. 



We shall do little more, therefore, than endeavour to 
arrange and illustrate in a compact form, what we 
believe to be the popular impressions of both. 

Mr. Hood possesses an original wealth of humour, 
invention, and an odd sort of wit that should rather 
be called whimsicality, or a faculty of the " high 
fantastic." Among comic writers he is one of those 
who also possess genuine pathos; it is often deep, 
and of much tenderness, occasional sweetness of 
expression, and full of melancholy memories. The 
predominating characteristics of his genius are hu- 
morous fancies grafted upon melancholy impres- 
sions. It is a curious circumstance, that in his 
" Whims and Oddities," of bygone years, the 
majority of them, by far, turned upon some painful 
physicality. A boy roaring under the rod — a luck- 
less individual being thrown over a horse's head — 
an old man with his night-cap on fire — a clergy- 
man with his wig accidently caught off his head 
by a pitch-fork — a man pursued by a hnll, — skeletons, 
death, duels — cats with mice, dogs with kettles — &c 
These are the kind of things (we do not recollect if 
all these are actually in his books) in which his an- 
nual presents abounded. Nobody who takes a se- 
cond look at any of these can feel them in a very 
jocular sense. If at all considered, they cease to 
be pleasurable. In the very first article of his 
" Magazine" recently published, there is a morbid 



55 J 

energy of desolatioD and misery for the love of those 
things, and there is no atory to relieve the feelings. 
A ghost or goblin of any kind would have been a 
real comfort. " The Haunted House" is a wonderful 
production for its prolonged inspiration of wretched- 
ness and squalid catalogue of ruin. Such are Hood's 
latent characteristics, at all events; but the more 
obvious features are those of humour, and a most 
ingenious eccentricity. His fancies often bear an 
appearance of being studied, and seem to have 
arisen from the mind of a thoughtful humourist, 
Slill, they are unaffected, and like himself. The 
fertihty of his wit has chiefly been displayed in the 
application of his most erratic fancies to the 
current topics of the day, its men and manners, its 
sayings and doings, its ignorances and illiberalities, 
Mr, Hood is almost exclusively known as a comic 
writer, and his " Plea of the Midsummer Fairies" is 
little read in comparison ; nevertheless, his songs and 
lyrical compositions have much sweetness, refine- 
ment, and tender melancholy. His prose and his 
verse equally illustrate his tendency to serious and 
pathetic writing. Though the touches of sadness are 
generally brief, and at unexpected seasons, Mr. Hood 
has still shown himself capable of writing a long 
narrative of serious interest and sustained purpose — 
carried on clear through the very thick of the cross- 
fire of puns, jokes, and extravaganzas — and con- 


vinced us that had he pleased (or had he possessed 
leas versatility) he would have taken a permanent po- 
eition among the highest class of English novelists, — 
if his " Tyhiey Hall" does not already entitle him 
to this rank. It will be recognized as a woik of 
genius, when hundreds of novels which have been 
popular since its publication, have lined trunks, and 
the trunks been burnt for fire-wood. 

Theodore Hook possessed both wit and humour, 
and told a story well. He had great graphic powers 
in the ridiculous, and a surprising readiness of in- 
vention, or novel application, But his wit was 
generally malicious, and his humour satirical. If he 
made a sharp hit at an individual peculiarity, the 
point generally went through into human nature. 
You could not help laughing, but were generally 
ashamed of yourself for having laughed. The objects 
of his satire were seldom the vices or follies of man- 
kind ; but generally their misfortunes, or manners, 
or unavoidable disadvantages, whether of a physical 
or intellectual kind. A poor man with his mutton 
bone, was a rich meal for his comic muse ; and he 
was convulsed at the absurdity of high principles in 
rags, or at all needy. He never made fun of a lord. 
He would as soon have taken the King of Terrors 
pickaback, as made fun of a lord. He was at the 
head of that unfortunately large class, who think 
that a brilhant sally of wit, or fancy, at any cost of 



67 ' 

nth or feeling, is not only the best thing in society, 
lut the best proof of sterling genius ; and that one 
of the finest tests of a dashing fellow of spirit is to 
steal clothes, j. e. not pay a tailor's bill ; — nor any 
other bill that can be helped, it might be added. ; 
Mr. Hood was a wit about ton'n, and a philosopher 
while recovering from " the effects of last night." 
His writings tended to give an unfavourable view of 
human nature, to make one suspicious and scornful. 
On the whole, though you had been amused and 
interested as you went on, you were left uncomfort- 
able, and wished you could forget what you bad 

Both these writers possess very great mastery of 
comic expression, and characteristic felicity of versi- 
fication and of rhyming. In addition to this, there 
was a novel feature introduced by Hood in his an- 
nuals, which often had an extremely ludicrous effect 
— viz, that of drawings in illustration, made by one 
who had " the idea," but no knowledge or ability in 
drawing. Since Hood really could draw, his per- 
formances in this way must be regarded as all the 
more ingenious. The most extraordinary attitudes and 
intentions, and the mostdifficult foreshorten ings, were 
boldly attempted after the fashion of a child on a 

, but witha determined. 

s eye, 

and apparently the most self-coniplaisant result. 
They were often quite irresistible. It is not, at the 



same tioie, to be denied that they continually gave 
you a very uncomfortable sensation. 

We could not, perhaps, convey a much better notion 
of Mr. Hook's style of writing, and of his actual 
habits of life, than in the following quotation from 
the Second Series of "Sayings and Doings;" — 

" WL»t'e the hour 1" said George. 

" Paat ail," answered his ffiead; " bo go ; sleep off your florrow, 
and I and Wilson will settle tte order of ibe day." 
"Bjtbewaj," said George, " n-e bave aomethiog paTtJculai- for 

" Parliciiltu' ! " auswered Dyson; "indeed have we — [here's the 
Fivei Court at one— at four the dear Con ateas— 'gad how »he did eat, 
this last past night of her joyous life." 

" And drini too," intarmpted George. 

" Bbe neTer refuses Roman puuch," observed Dyson, " I never aaiv 
a freer creature ia thai line in my life ; to be sure alie ia dreadfully 
Dudei-rated ) her cousin they say is a tallowcbandler ; and, upon my 
life, 1 never ait near her bat I tancj 1 amell the moulds." 

" Hang the moulds 1" said George : "she ia good-natured, and I 

" The good nature arises from her good set of teeth," said Dyson : 
" if ever you want laugbera, George, to make up n patty, study the 
ivory. Pe sure your guests have good teeth and they'll laugh at the 
worst Btory of a dinner-going wit, rather than not show the ' white 
and even,' Never mind ; at four we go to thoCounloas, at sii we try 
a new off-lender, at seven I have a short call to maliB in the Sew Road, 
and at eight we all dine here. After tAal, trust to chance ; by the 
way, George, before you go to bed, I'll trouble yon to lend me a couple 
of htindred pounds." 

" To be sure," said George, turning to his prime minister, who was 
waiting; " Wilson, let Mr. Dyson have what he wants," 


« Sir t *' exclaimed WUson. 

** Don't scold me, Mr. Wilson/' said his master : " mj friend Dyson 
must not be refused ; so good night, most worthy Arthur." Saying 
which the master of the house retired to rest, escorted by his body- 
servant, Monsieur Duyal. 

" Now, Wilson,*' said Mr. Dyson, '' the money if you please, at 
your earliest convenience." 

" Mouey, Sir 1 " said Wilson. 

" Yes, money, Mr. Wilson," repeated the young worthy ; " why, 
you stare as if I asked you to pay the national debt ; I only want you 
to give me two hundreds of pounds.*' 

" I could do the one as easily as the other," answered the man. 

** Why, you keep your master's purse, Mr. Wilson 1 " 

The Man qf Many Friends* 

So much for the knowledge and experience of 
fashionable life, its follies, extravagancies, and '* prin- 
ciples" of conduct. Let us turn to something more 
kindly from the pages of Hood. We can hardly do 
better than turn to the First Series of " Whims and 
Oddities," and the first thing that meets our eye is 
" Moral Reflections on the Cross of St. Paul's :" — 

*' And what is life ? and all its ages — 
There's seven stages ! 
Tumham Green ! Chelsea ! Putney ! Fulham ! 
Brentford ! and Kew ! 
And Tooting, too ! 
And oh ! what very little nags to pull 'em. 

Yet each would seem a horse indeed, 
If here at Paul*s tip-top we'd got 'em ; 

Although, like Cinderella's breed, 
They're mice at bottom. 


Then let me not despise a horse, 
Though he looks small from Paul's high cross ! 
Since he would he,—- as near the tiky, 
—Fourteen hands hig^. 

" What is this world with London in its lap 1 

Mogg^s Map. 
The Thames, that ebhs and flows in its broad channel 1 

A tidy kennel. 
The bridges stretching from its banks t 

Stone planks. 
Oh me ! hence could I read an admonition 

To mad Ambition ! 
But that he would not listen to my call, 
Though I should stand upon the cross, and ball!" 

Mr. Hood's sympathies are with humanity ; they 
are not often genial^ because of a certain grotesque 
sadness that pervades them^ but they are always 
kindly. .He is liberal-minded^ and of an independent 
spirit. His inner life is clearly displayed by his 
various writings. Mr. Hook had no sympathies with 
humanity for its own sake, but only as developed and 
modified by aristocratic circumstances and fashion- 
able tastes. He was devoted to splendid externals. 
He may be said to have had no inner life — except 
that the lofty image of a powdered footman, with 
golden aiguillettes and large white calves, walked with 
a great air up and down the silent avenues of his 
soul. But the life of animal spirits. Hook possessed 
in an eminent degree. They appeared inexhaustible, 


qind being applied as a sort of "steam" or laughing 

gas to set in motion his invention and all its fancies, 
and his surprising faculty of extemporaneous song- 
'*ig, it is no wonder that his company was bo 
I much in request, and that he was regarded as such 
a delightful time-killer and incentive to wine by the 
"high bloods of the upper circles," He made them 
laugh at e;ood things, and forget themselves. He 
also made them drink. Thus are red herrings and 
[ Knchoviea used. Sad vision of a man of genius, as 
I Hook certainly was, assiduously pickling his prero- 
gative, and selling his birth-right for the hard and 
thankless servitude of pleasing idle hours and pam- 
pered vanities. The expenses, the debts, the secret 
^rudgery, the splitting head-aches and heart's misery 
i incurred, in order to maintain his false position 
I in these circles, are well known ; and furnish one more 
warning to men of genius and wit, of how dearly, how 
I ruinously they have to pay for an invitation to a great 
L dinner, and a smile from his Grace. The man of 
I moderate means who usually dines at home, saves 
I money besides his independence ; but the man who 
I is always "dining out" let him look to his pocket, 
I as well as his soul. 

Mr. Hood, in private, offers a marked contrast (o 

all that has been said of Theodore Hook. In no- 

. thing, perhaps, more than in this — that Hook was 

"audible, and full of vent," and Hood is habitually 

" Therefore she walks through the great city, Teiled 
In Ttrtue's adamantine eloquence, 
'Gainst scorn, and death, and pain, thus treblj mailed. 

And blending in the smiles of that defence. 
The serpent and the doye — Wisdom and Innocence/' 

Rbtolt of Islam. 

" A thousand winged Intelligences dailj 

Shall be thj ministers. 

Thou Shalt command all Arts, 

As handmaids." 


" I meant the day-star should not brighter rise. 

Nor lend like influence from its lucent seat; 
I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet. 

Hating that solemn yice of greatness, pride; 
I meant each softest virtue there should meet. 

Fit in that softer bosom to reside : 
Only a learned and a manly soul 

I purposed her ; that should, with even powers, 
The rock, the spindle, and the shears controul 

Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours." 

Bbn Jonson. 





Harriet Martineau, in whose powers of keen 
observation^ clear thought^ patient study, and untiring 
energy, guided always by singleness of purpose in the 
pursuit of truth, we should naturally have found 
promise of a long career of constantly progressive 
intellectual labour, has been withdrawn by disabling 
illness from the active course which from her youth 
she had worthily pursued. Had it been otherwise, a 
review of the character of her mind and writings 
must have been conducted as only an examination of 
one portion of their manifestations, and must have 
been prophetic as well as retrospective. As it is, it 
must bear something of the impress of finality. Yet, 
it will not be worthy of its subject if on that ac- 


count it is tinged with regret or complaint. In her 
consistent and well-ordered mind, nothing akin to 
such a feeling has found a place. We did not require 
to be told that she has endured the ordeal, peculiarly 
hard to one of her active habits, with cheerfulness, 
courage, and faith in " the soul of goodness in things 
evil." The few works she has pubhshed since her 
illness have been addressed to the young, and written 
in a tone of entire sympathy with their buoyant 
hfe. This shows a singular freshness of spirit main- 
tained throughout the languor and suffering of the 
bodily frame. The moral influence emanating from 
her sick room, and hitherto exerted over the circle of 
her friends, has by her volume of essays just pub- 
lished, extended itself more widely. Of this beauti- 
ful volume we shall speak in its place. It is a pa- 
thetic illustration of the way in which 

" They also setia who only stand and wait." 

Harriet Martineau was born in the year 1802, one 
of the youngest among a family of eight children. 
Her father was a proprietor of one of the manu- 
factories in Norwich, in which place his family, 
originally of French origin, had resided since the re- 
vocation of the Edict of Nantes. She has herself 1 
ascribed her taste for lilerary pursuits to the extreme | 
delicacy of her health in childhood ; to the infirmity / 
(deafness) with which she has been afflicted ever/ 




r«ince, which without being so complete as to deprive 
her absolutely of all intercourse with the world, yet 
obliged her to seek occupations and pleasures within 
herself; and to the affection which subsisted between 
her and the brother nearest her own age, the Rer. i 
James Martineau, whose fine mind and talents are ) 
well known. The occupation of writing, first begun 
to gratify her own taste and inclination, became 
afterwards to her a source of honourable inde- 
pendence, when by one of the disasters so common in 
trade, her family became involved in misfortunes. 
She was then enabled to reverse the common lot of 
unmarried daughters in such circumstances, and 
cease to be in any respects a burthen. She realized 
an income sufficient for her simple habits, but still so 
small as to enhance the integrity of the sacriflce 
which she made to principle in refusing the pension 
offered to her by Government in 1840. Her motive 
for refusing it, was, that she considered herself in the 
fight of a political writer, and that the offer did not 
proceed from the people, bnt from the Government 
which did not represent the people. 

The list of works published by Harriet Martioeau 
is sufficient of itself to prove her great industry and 
perseverance in a course once begun. It will be seen 
that she published early in life, and that the series of 
her works proceeds with scarcely a break, year by 
year, onward to the period of her illness. Full as It 


h, it does not comprehend her numerous contribu- 
tions to periodical literature, some of which are 
among the most valuable of her compositions. The 
list is as follows : — 

1823.— « Devotional Exercises, ior the use of Young Persons/' 

18124 & 5.— *< Christmas Daj, or the Friends," a tale. <'The 
Friends.** — Second Part. 

18«6.— " Principle and Practice," a tale. ** The Rioters." " Ad- 
dresses, Prayers, and Original Hymns.*' 

1827.—** Marj Campbell," a tale. *« The Turn Out," a tde. 

1829. — ** Sequel to Principle and Practice," a tale. Tracts, for 
Houlston. ** My Servant Rachel," a tale. 

18S0.— "Traditions of Palestine.** "The Essential Faith of the 
UniTersal Churoh," (Prize Essay.) ** Five Years of Youth," a 

1831.— ."The Faith as unfolded by many Propheto,'* (Prize Es- 
say.) " Providence as manifested through Israel,** (Prize Essay.) 

1832, 3,& 4.— " Illustrations of Political Economy,*' " Illustra- 
tions of Taxation,*' tales. ** Poor Laws and Paupers Illustrated,** tales. 

In this interval Miss Martineau went to America. 

1837. — "Society in America.** 

1838.—" Retrospect of Western Travel." " Letter to the Deaf.'* 
*' How to observe Morals and Manners.*' " The Maid of All Work," 
(Guide to Service.) " The Lady's Maid." 

1839.— " Deerbrook," a novel. «'The Housemaid," (Guide to 

1840. — The Dressmaker,*' with technical aid. (Guide to Trade.) 
" The Hour and the Man,*' a Romance. 

1841.— "The Playfellow,*' 4 vols. viz.;— " The Settlers at Home.*' 
"The Peasant and the Prince." " Feats on the Fiord." " The 
Crofton Boys." 


From these works, the authoress would doubtless, 
like all those who have published early in life, gladly 
expunge some of the earliest. Yet there is not one 
among theni which is out of keeping with the rest. 
Alt are written with a moral aim, in some higher, in 
others lower, but always apparent ; all are remarkable 
for a fjee, clear, and unaiFected style, which in her 
later productions is admirable from its lucid distinct- 
ness and simple force ; and the whole taken together 
evince a continual iraproveabiUty and progression, an 
undoubted sign of the possession on the part of the 
writer, of a mind open to and earnest for truth. 

The year 1830 marks an epoch in the mind we are 
studying : the works from that period assume a 
higher tone, and have in general a higher aim. The 
"Traditions of Palestine" was a beautiful conception, 
executed in a spirit of love and poetry which throws 
a charm over its pages. The period in which Jesus 
Christ fulfilled his mission on earth, the people among 
whom he dwelt, the scenes in which he moved, the 
emotions he awakened, the tjioughts he kindled, all 
are portrayed in a series of descriptions; while He 
himself (with that true art which has in this instance 
been instilled by reverence) is never introduced in 
person. This little book must kindle pure and holy 
thoughts wherever it is read. 

The three Prize Essays published in this and the 
following year by the Association of Unitarian Dis- 



aenters, to which Miss Martineau belongs, display 
some of ibe chief powers of her mind. At this 
period she began her contributions to the " Monthly 
Repository;" these were sometimes original essays, 
tales, or poetry ; sometimes reviews of metaphysical 
or theological works. Among the most excellent, we 
may notice the "Essays on the Art of Thinking," on 
the " Religion of Socrates," and "True Wor- 
shippers ;" but above all, the poem for the month of 
August, in a series by different authors, entitled 
" Songs of the Months." 

All these literary labours were coincident with the 
design which was afterwards accomplished in the 
" Illustrations of Political Economy," Slie has her- 
self ascribed the original idea of this successful work 
to the reading of Mrs. Marcel's " Conversations on 
Political Economy" which made her perceive that in 
her own tales entitled the "Rioters' and "The 
Turn-Out," she had written pohtical economy as 
M. Jourdain spoke prose, without knowing it. The 
question which thence presented itself, as to why all 
the doctrines of the science should not be equally 
well illustrated by fiction, was followed by a resolu- 
tion to risk the publication of her Tales, The plan 
had been rejected by the Society for the Diffusion of 
Useful Knowledge. They could not see that any 
practical knowledge or truth was to be conveyed 
through the medium of fiction, which they regarded 



in all Its forms ss light reading, in direct opposition to 
weighty facts. The leading publishers, probably had 
a similar impression ; and would not accept the 
work. At length one was found who undertook the 
enterprise, and at the end of a month complete suc- 
cess was certain. The books were in everybody's 
hands; tlie new number was watched for at the 
beginning of every month; edition was called for 
after edition ; translations into French and German 
weremnde; the reputation of Harriet Martineau as 
an able writer, was established. 

This is not the place for an examination of the 
doctrines of political economy ; nor would any such 
task be incumbent, even in a lengthened analysis of 
Miss Martineau's work. The task which she pro- 
posed to herself was to illustrate such parts of the 
fundamental doctrines of the science as lead to 
important practical results, adopting the doctrines 
as taught by the highest contemporary authorities. 
No one will deny ihe clearness and completeness of 
her illustration. Her correct interpretation of her 
authorities is questioned only ou one point by a high 
authority, Mr. John Mill, in his review of her series. 
That point is her " unqualified condemnation of 
the pri7iciple at the poor-laws." " Tn this," says the 
reviewer, " she is decidedly behind the present state 
of the science." What this principle has effected in 
the working, is another matter. We should, how- 


ever, conceive on the evideoce of passages in her 
work on " America," relating to the competitive 
system and its necessary results, that she has subse- 
quently abandoned her former views on this subject. 

The stones, by means of which she illustrates her 
main points, are generally constructed admirably, and 
testify to a great power of invention. It was no 
slight undertaking to contrive an interesting plot 
hearing on twenty-four doctrines of political economy; 
six more on taxation; and four more on poor-laws 
and paupers ! But the majority of these stones 
really are interesting on their own account; some of 
them deeply so. We need only instance " Ire- 
land " as perhaps the finest of all, and add that it was 
worthily companioned. 

The choice of such a class of subjects gave rise to 
all manner of imputations. The " Quarterly Re- 
view." in especial, while enlarging on what did not 
appear to it as " feminine," certainly forgot what 
was gentlemanly. To most dispassionate inquirers, 
the choice will appear simply an evidence of the 
possession of a mind keenly alive to perceptions 
of all outward things; actively benevolent; obser- 
vant of passing events, and the wants and evils of 
the age; turning its attention, therefore, to studies 
bearing on those evils and their remedies; logical 
rather than creative; hopeful of good, therefore too 
ready at times to adopt a theory bearing a promise 



of good ; aod having embraced it, clear and acute in 
working it ont. Too unshackled ia spirit, too un- 
affected and Bim pie-minded to be deterred for a 
moment from putting forth to the world that which 
she had conceived of truth and wisdom, by any con- 
sideration of what this or the other organ might 
decide on the subject of feminine occupations; but 
that which she found to do, " doing it with her 

The work on "America" written after the tour 
which Miss Martineau made in that country, is very 
valuable, as containing an admirably written de- 
scription by an accurate observer, with a most candid 
mind and a thirst after the truth. At that period 
she was possessed of perfect health, and the good 
spirits natural to her were enhanced by success. 
The book breathes of cheerfulness and hopefulness. 
She evidently enjoyed her residence among the Ame- 
ricans, Rud she has dwelt on their fine institutions, 
their grand country, their many advantages, as on a 
favourite theme. Their lighter faults she has touched 
lightly; their graver errors with a melancholy ear- 
nestness. " Their civilization and morals," she says, 
" fall far below their own principle." This is enough 
to say. It is better than contrasting them with 
" Earopean morals and civilization," This ia un- 
doubtedly tlie only philosophical view of the matter; 
and it is wiser to have failh like Harriet Martineau 


that the ideal standard set before them will elevate 
them to itself in time, than to reproach them with 
the discrepancy. It is no wonder that the subject is 
puzzling to us, nho have outgrown our Institutions, 
and are obliged to maintain a continual struggle to 
bring them into something like harmony with our 
morals and civilization. Her chapters on slavery and 
its aspects have a solemnity of reprobation. On the 
other hand, the following passage contains a view of 
this subject which other nations are too apt to forget, 
and is a good instance of that clear-sightedness and 
candour which are so characteristic of the writer: — 

" The nalipn nmsl not be judged of by that portion irhose worldly 
inteirats are JDToIv^ed in the mainteDSDce of ifae anomaly ; aor^etby 
the eight huDdreil aourishiag abolition aocietiea of the north, with all 
the Bupporlers they hare in unassocialed individuals. The uation 
mUBt be judged of as to SluFfiry hj neither of these parties ; but by 
tlie aspect of t)ie conflrct between them. If it be found that the Gve 
■bolilionists who first met in a little chamber five years ago, to mea- 
wirs their moral strength against this national eoormity, hare become 
B host beneath whose assaults tlie vicious institution is racking (o its 
foundations, it is time that slavery was ceasing to be a nalioaal re- 
proEcb. Europe now owes to America the justice of regarding her as 
tbe country of abolitionism, qaite as emphatically as (he country of 

Socielff in America, r. 3. p. 249. 

This work is as remarkable for its fearless out- 
spoKen tone as for its cheerful, hopeful and candid 
views of things. Among other subjects on which the 
opinions of the writer are freely stated, is that of the 




fcondition of women, Mias Martineau accuses the 
American Constitution of inconsistency in withhold- 
ing from women political and social equality with 
men. She points out that while it pioclaims in 
theory, the equal rights of all the human race (except 
the blacks) it exeUidea one-half of the human race 
from any political rights whatever ; neither providing 
for their independence as holders of property, nor as 
controllers of legislation, although their interests are 
equally concerned in both with those of men. 

A similarity of opinion on this question is to he 
found in the writings of Mrs. Jameson. Her delit^lit- 
ful work, the " Characteristics of Women," may be 
said to have derived its origin from her strong feel- 
ings concerning the imperfect institutions of society 
with regard to her own sex ; and in her " Winter 
Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada," she has 
explicitly and in eloquent terms stated her dissatis- 
faction, though she has rather called upon legislators 
to provide a remedy than pointed one out herself, 
except in her advocacy of a more enlarged and more 
enlightened system of education. 

It is evident that these two fine-minded women 
have been led to the same opinions by totally differ- 
ent circumstances, and hence they hold them " with 
a difference." The calm temperament, clear intel- 
lect, and active energy of Harriet Martineau ensured 
to herself a moral independence ; the intellectual 
B 2 


society in which she moved encouraged it, and her 
logical head set her to the investigation of the causes 
which debarred the generality of women from the 
enjoyment of the healthy and cheerful tone of the 
inner life of which she was conscious herself. In 
her writings, tlierefore, we find no complaints ; simply 
a recognition of existing evils, and an indication of 
their remedies. With Mrs. Jameson it is ditferent. 
She sees more difficulties in the case. She knows 
by experience more of the complications, and is con- 
scious of the mysterious links and sympathies by 
which the chains have been wound around that half 
of the human race to which she belongs. Her feel- 
ings have been awakened to the subject by expe- 
rience of suffering; and looking round her, and 
seeing how widely spread Buch suffering is, she 
points to the master passion whence she feels it 
springs, and to the evil at the root of the tree of life, 
with a cry for help which often sounds like a wail of 
despair; — 

'' Strange, and pasBing strange," slie savs, '' tbst >Ue relHllon be- 
tween the Iwo seies, tlie passion of lose in short, aliould not be token 

educate sad legialate aa if there was no snob thing io the world ; but 
Bak the priest, ask the physiciao — let ilifTH reveal Che nmount of moral 
Hod physical results from this one cause. * * IMust love be ever 
treated with pmfaiieness, as a mere illusion t or witb coarseness, us 
a mere impulse 1 or with fear, oa a mere diseaae T or with aliame, aa a 
mere weakness 1 or with levity-, as a mere accideut! Whereas, it is 



human eii 
iritable u 

T and a grasl necBasily, lying at tbe foundnlion of 

B, moralilj, and happinesB, — mjaterioua, universal, in- 

h. Wb; dien sbould lore be treated less Berionslj 

Ihan deatlil It U ss seriouB a thins- • • * « * 

Deulb must come snd lore must come— bul tlie stale in tcbicb (be; 

findua? — whetber blinded, aalonisLad, and frigblened, and ignoront, 

!, guarded, prepared, and fit to maniige our 

pose, depends on ourseliea ; and for want 

ind self-Iinon'ledge, look at the ecils Ibat 

t, unsuitable martiagee; repining, diaeaaed. 

tor licious celibacy -, irratriovable infamy ; cureleaa inaaniiy 
death that aomes early, and the Ic 

.ing the 

like reasonable creai 
■n feelings ? — His, I 

such self- man ageme 
sue ! — busly, improvi 

^eath that aomes early 
I inimal laws of out nature." 

Mrs. Jameson is well aware of the odium likely to 
fall upon any meddler with this subject, and thus 
humorously describes the danger sbe runs upon: — 

It is tike puttiag one's hand into (be fire, only to touch upon it ; 
(be □uireraal bruise, Ibe putrifyiag sore, on wblcb you moat not 
■Jay a finger, or your patient (that is, aociely) cries out and resiels; 
■ad, like a sick baby, ecratchea and kicks ita physician." 

Mrt. Jametim's " Canada," vol, 3. pp. 12, 13. 

Mrs. Jameson is an established favourite with the 
public. She is an accomplished woman, an elegant 
writer, and her refined taste and quick sensibility are 
good influences on her age. Her "Characteristics of 
Women" contain a searching analysis of character 
and fine criticism, such as ought to place her name 
among those of the greatest of the commentators of 
Shakspere. Her exposition of the character of 
Cordelia is, in especial, beautifully truej and ber 


perceplion of ihe intensity, and strength, and real 
dignity of soul in Helena (in " All 's Well that Ends 
Well/') notwitliBtanding that the tenour of all the 
incidents and circnmstances around her wound and 
shock, manifests the true power to look beyond the 
outward shows of things and read the heart. The 
" Visits and Sketches at Home and Abroad " ia a 
delightful book; accomplishing that rare task of 
rendering descriptions of works of art pleasant read- 
ing instead of dull catalogues. The authoress has 
also published the " Lives of Celebrated Female 
Sovereigns;" and " Explanatory Notes to the Series 
of Outlines by Retzch," called " Retzch's Fancies." 
The " Diary of an Ennnyee" has gone through more 
editions than any of her works. It is not only a 
delightful book of travels, but the vivid picture of 
an individual mind — a personal narrative, which is 
always exciting and interesting. But self-conscious- 
ness, the bane of all real emotion is implied in the 
possibility of recording emotion ,■ and feeling is apt 
" to die, if it but look upon itself." Hence, we regard 
those who enrich the world's experience by the dis- 
closure of their own souls, to be themselves the sacri- 
fice; for both joy and Borrow are blunted by tbeii 
own record. 

The "DeerbrooV" of Harriet Martineau has not 
enhanced the reputation of its authoress. The con- 
ception involves a moral puzzle, which is always 




ninrul. Neither does the catastrophe solve the 
' puzzle. As the hero is made to sacrifice love to a 
supposed and mistaken view of duty, thus tampering 
with fL great reality Tor the sake of a shadow, the 
plot ought to eud in a tragedy, instead of in peace 
after a struggle. " The Hour and the Man," is a 
story of deep interest; but fiction has done little 
for it. In the form of an authentic memoir of its 
grand suhject, the life and death of " Toussaint 
L'Ouverture," its effect would have been more power- 
ful. Much finer than either of these works of fiction 
are the tales comprising the series called the "Play- 
fellow," published within the last two years. These 
tales, constructed simply, to suit the minds for which 
they are intended, and founded on the emotions and 
actions of children, breathe a spirit of noble for- 
titude, endurance, energy, and self-control, which 
make them healthy reading for old and young. If 
they hava a fault it is that they are rather wanting 
in love as an influence, resting more on the teachings 
of suffering. Among them all " The Crofton Boys" 
is our especial favourite. In all these works there 
is evinced a very great power of description, and 
frequently a quiet humour. Harriet Martineau is 
never personal nor satirical. " Life in the Sick 
Room " is published without a name ; but that 
she is the authoress cannot be doubted for a 
monient by any one who has studied her writings, 

and fitr less by any one who has ever held com- 
panionship with herself; for it breathes of herself in 
every thought and word, chastened, purified, and in- 
structed by suffering, and with eyes firmly fixed on the 
countenance of the Angel of Death, which is to her not 
terrible, but calm, in pale and solemn beauty. It would 
also appear, though no name is mentioned, that the 
friend to whom she dedicates the volume is Elizabeth 
B. Barrett, the elegant poetess and accomplished 
scholar, who, like herself, long immured within the 
four walls of her chamber, yet possesses sympathies 
alive to beauty and all fine influences, and a spirit 
expanding into and aspiring towards infinity. The 
holy teachings of this book are more touching in 
their wisdom than would be the words of one 
who came to us "from the dead;" for here the 
bourne is not passed; the words come indeed from 
one who has become accustomed to her " footing 
on the shaking plank over the deep dark river," but 
who is not too far removed from our sympathies, and 
has not yet laid aside the conditions of our common 

Both these fine writers have, as we have seen, 
advocated a re-modeUing of our institutions with 
regard to their own sex. The one represents the 
intellect of the question, the other the feeling; one 
brings to it an acute abstract comprehension, the 
other all the sympathies of a woman; one reasons 



from observation, the other from experience ; one Iiaa 
been roused to the cause by general benevolence, 
the other, probably, by personal suffering. Harriet 
Martineau has devoted her powers chiefly to science, 
moral or political. She has generally written with 
some fixed aim, some doctrine to illustrate, some 
object to accomplish. Mrs. Jameson, on the other 
hand, has pursued the study of art. She is a 
fine critic, and possesses a subtle insight into 
character. We may expect many more works from 
her. To the course of Harriet Martineau we must 
look as to one nearly closed ; but close when it may, 
she has done enough to prove her possession of a mind 
endowed with the capability of great usefulness, which 
she has noblyapplied to high purposes. She has shown 
the power of grasping a principle ; of evolving from it 
all its legitimate consequences, and of so clearly ar- 
ranging them as to present truth to the understanding 
and to the heart also by its consistency and harmony. 
Her genius is not creative ; but her works of fiction 
exhibit a rare faculty of conception, and the power 
of combining the materials collected by her accurate 
observation and clear thought, so as to produce a 
charm and an interest. She is poetical, though not 
a poet. One composition, however, to which we 
have already referred, might, by itself, give her a 
claim to the title; but, perhaps, there is no fine 
mind which has not in its time produced its one 
E 5 


poem. We conclude with that poem, and we feel that 
in reference to her, we so conclude, appropriately : — 


" Beneath this starrj arch. 
Nought resteth or is still ; 
But all things hold their march 
As if by one great will. 
Moves one, move all ; 
Hark to the foot-fall ! 
On, on, for ever. 

" Yon sheaves were once hut seed; 
Will ripens into deed ; 
As cave-drops swell the streams, 
Day thoughts feed nightly dreams ; 
And sorrow tracketh wrong, 
As echo follows song. 

On, on, for ever. 

*' By night, like stars on high, 
The hours reveal their train ; 
They whisper and go hy ; 
I never watch in vain. 

Moves one, move all ; 

Hark to the foot-fall ! 

On, on, for ever. 

*' They pass the cradle head. 
And there a promise shed ; 
They pass the moist new grave. 
And bid rank verdure wave ; 
They bear through every clime, 
The harvests of all time. 

On, on, for ever." 




" Too popular is Tragic Poesy, 
Straining his tip-toes for a fkrthing fee. 
Painters and Poets hold your ancient right I 
Write what you will, and write not what you might. 
Their limits be their list— their reason, nill /" 

Bishop Hall's Satires, 





The Drama should be the concentrated spirit of 
the age. The Stage should be the mirror over which 
every varying emotion of the period should pass. 
What is the Spirit of an Age as. regards the 
Drama ? Certainly the Theatrical Spirit is the most 
undramatic that can be. Stage-plays are not of 
necessity Dramas^ and more truly dramatic elements 
may be found in the novelist's works than in the 
theatrical writer's. The Dramatic Spirit of our Age, 
of this very year, is to be found more living and real 
in the pages of Hood, Dickens, Mrs. Gore, and Mrs. 
Trollope, than in the play-house pieces. These writers 
gather for themselves the characteristics of existence 
as modified by the principles and taste of the age, and 
the latter draw from them, or from the large con 


ventional storehouse of ttie hereditary drama tlieir 
traditionary portraitures. 

In this portion of our subject, inuBt we tten ex- 
amine the works of the novelists and other writers 
of fiction, rather than the stage writers'! To be 
strictly logical, this should be the case ; but as our 
work is historical aa well as critical, we naust ad- 
here to the popular and forsake the philosophical 

The visible Drama is most eminently portrayed 
in the works of Sheridan Knowlea, and the acting 
of William Macready. These two gentlemen, at all 
events, are the visible representera of it, and ninety- 
nine men out of every hundred allude to and think 
of them when discussing Dramatic matters. This 
is reversing the rational state of the matter; but 
being so, we must endeavour to accommodate our- 
selves to it 

The only way in which Mr. Knowles personi- 
fies our age, is in bis truly domestic feeling. The 
age is domestic, and so is he. Comfort — not pas- 
sionate imaginings, — is ibe aim of every body, and 
he seeks to aid and gratify this love of comfort 
All his dramas are domestic, and strange to say, 
those that sbould be most classic, or most chival- 
ric, most above and beyond it, are the most im- 
bued with this spirit In what consists the inter- 
est and force of bis popular play of " Vii^inius ?" 


^ detjc 


domestic feeling. The costume, the setting, the 
decorations are heroic. We have Roman tunics, 

but a modern English heart, — the scene is the Forum, 
but the sentiments those of the "Bedford Arms." The 
affection of the father for his daughter — the pride of 
the daughter in her father, are the main principles of 
the play, and the pit and galleries and even much of 
the boxes are only perplexed with the lictors and the 
Decemviri, and the strange garments of the actors. 
These are a part of the shew folks' endeavour to 
amuse. Is Caius Gracchus not heroic 1 — are there 
not very long speeches about Liherly and Rome? 
Undoubtedly: but still the whole care of Gracchus 
is for his family : and to the audience the interest is 
entirely domestic. 

It is the same in " William Tell,;" though liberty 
and heroism should be the prevailing subjects, the in- 
terest is entirely domestic. For the freedom of a 
country, for the punishment of a petty-minded tyrant 
the auditor of this play but slenderly cares, — while 
for the security of Tell's family and the personal 
success of Tell, every one is anxious. This feeling, in 
proportion as our author became popular, has only 
more visibly developed itself; and his later produc- 
tions have manifested his prevailing quahty more 
powerfully in the pure form of woman's characteristics, 
Julia, — the Wife — the Countess Eppeustein, are fine 
impersonations of the atfections; elaborated and ex- 



foliated into all the ramificatioDs of womanhood. 
Is this assertion of hia ruling principle stated in a 
spirit of detraction ? By no means : but only to 
enable us to trace the cause of Mr. Knowles' popu- 
larity, as far as it extends, and to show the inevit- 
able connection the writer's genius must have with 
. the Spirit of the Age. Mr. Knowles is at the 
1 head of the acted Dramatists of the age, assuredly 
not because he has more invention, more wit, more 
knowledge of human character, or more artistical 
skill than many other living dramatic writers, but 
because his genius, for domestic interests, added to 
his stage influence as an actor, has forced his talents 
into higher or fuller employment than that of any of 
his compeers. He has delved into the human breast, 
and traced the secret windings of the affections. 
Limited, indeed, to the emotions elicited by modem 
social intercourse, but still with genuine truth and 
varied knowledge. For this he is greatest in dia- 
logue scenes that gradually and completely unfold a 
feeling. And again, this tendency of his genius 
induces him to delight in delineating the charac- 
teristics of woman. 

He is entitled to respect inasmuch as he has 
risen instead of fallen with public approbation. In 
" Virginiua," " Caius Gracchus," " Tell," we see tlie 
play-wright predominant. Mr. Knowles, when com- 
posing these, was struggling for fame, perhaps for 


Pexistence, and he was compelled to pass through the 
turnpikes that public taste had erected, and managers 
maintained. Consequently, we find all the formula 
of the received drama, — shows, battles, bustle, anti- 
quated phraseology, vapid imitations of obsolete 
humours, and altogether a barbarous medley of the 
traditionary and commonplace tricks of the theatre, 
introduced, first to attract managers and through 
them to charm the multitude. Gradually, however, as 
he won his way from servitude to power he used his 
success manfully. In the "Hunchback," he emanci- 
pated himself greatly from the trammels of the play- 
wright, and in the character of "Julia" gave full 
hcence to his genius to develope his intuitions of 
female nature. The plot of this play is absurd, the 
construction clumsy, the attempt to delineate human 
character in many instances feeble — the language 
often grotesque ; but it took hold of the public, it 
elicited unanimous apjjlause, because in the woman it 
spoke the language of nature to nature. Herein he 
("indicated his high calling — herein he was the poel. 
Situation — sentiment — circumstance — show — pro- 
cessions — groupings — were abandoned, and human 
emotion finely expressed, won and subdued all 
hearts, — chastening, whilst interesting; instructing, 
while it moved. 

As an artist in dramatic composition, Mr. Knowles 
Blast be ranked with the least ekilful, particularly of 


I late. The comparative failure of his laet three < 
four productions is chiefly attributable to their ineffi-1 
ciency of constmctioii, though they contain more 
beautiful poetry in detached fragments than ( 
found in any of his former works. 

So much space would not rightly have been givM 
to remarks on Mr. Knowles, but that he speaks the " 
predominating feeling of the age. Were we to esti- 
mate him by comparison, or by analysis — by what 
has been, what is, and what may be, he would not 
hold a high rank— so great, so vast are the capa- 
cities of the Drama. Placed beside Shakspere, and 
the powerful-minded men of Elizabeth's day, he 
dwindles, it is true ;"* but placed beside the 
Rowes, the Soulherns, the Murphys — he is as a 
man to mouthing dwarfs. But, whatever he may be 
by comparison, he is truly a poet, and as such should 

I he honoured. 

But the Drama has many phases; and being bo 
peculiarly an imitative art, how can it be otherwise? 
The most simple is that which reflects the tone and 
temperament of the age. This kind of Drama must 
not now be looked for amongst what is somewhat 
absurdly called the "legitimate." That phrase is 
foolishly applied to a form — the five-act form ; and to 
that kind of Drama which includes philosophical ex- 

We iliouM mcepl l)i« Bant parti □( hli belt dlBlogim, Id wblcb be ilon not 
dwludte baiie the BUnibethao men, kut li wurtbr lo ituiil vaoag tbem.— Ed. 


lOBition of human character, and philosophical and 
■riietorical dissertation upon it. But the most legili- 
Ijnate, because the genuine offspring of the age, is 
that Drama which catches the manners as they rise, 
and embodies the characteristics of the time. This, 
then, has forsaken the five-act form, and taken 
shelter at what have been named " Minor Theatres," 
and it will be found in the skilful little Come- 
dies, and bright, racy Dramas of Jerrold, Planch6, 
Bernard, Buckstone, Oxenford, Dance, Mark Lemon, 
Moncrieff, Coyne, Leman Rede, Lunn, Peake, Poole, 
and otiiers. Few of these clever writers have made 
any pretensions, in writing for the stage, beyond 
pecuniary and fair professional motives. Mr. Jerrold, 
Mr. Oxenford, Mr. Planche, and several more, have 
various other claims in literature ; but their position on 
the stage only is here treated. They have, each and all 
(though in very different quantities), lavished much 
wit,fency,and invention on their productions, doomed 
by the theatrical destinies to an ephemeral existence. 
Some of their pieces have lived their thirty, fifty, and 
even hundred nights, and then been heard of no more. 
These writers have borne the brunt of much truculent 
and bombastic criticism — they have been miserably 
remunerated — and often but ill appreciated, though 
much applauded. Whoever for the last twenty years 
has spent his evenings at the Olympic, the Adelpbi, 
the Haymarket, the Strand, the Surrey, and even the 


Victoria Theatres, cannot but recall tlie innumerable 
dramas that have nsea, like summer clouds, evening 
after evening, only to be absorbed into a night, endless 
in all cases, and frequently undeserved. How many 
sparkling sallies — how much gaiety — how many 
humorous characteristics — lightly and vividly sha- 
dowing forth our social existence, — and what skill in 
the distribution of the action and effects ! Could all 
the laughs be collected and re-uttered in a con- 
tinuous volley, the artillery of Waterloo would be 
a trifle to it; nor would the rain of that destructive 
day exceed the tears that have been shed at these 
shrines of the dramatic muses. Yet tiie authors are 
spoken of slightingly by the ponderous dispensers 
of fame ; and treated by the managers, and even 
the delighted public, as something only a few 
degrees above street-minstrels. But herein is sha- 
dowed the fate of their mighty predecessors; and 
in the red-herring and rhenish banquet that killed 
Nash — in the tavern-brawling death of Marlowe — 
in the penury of Dekker — of Webster, who was a 
pariah-clerk, — of Beaumont, and Fletcher, and the 
distresses of nearly every one of the dramatists of 
their age, is to be found the symbol of the con- 
duct which originality ever suffers, in the first 
instance. Deaths that might have resembled Ot- 
way's, have no doubt been often within an ace of 
occurring among many of his fraternity. The 


fesent race are small of stature when measured 
with their noble progenitors — not because the present 
Age is so much less imaginative and impassioned, but 
because the public taste has been perverted, and can- 
not improve of itself, and because managers, without 
a single exception, persist in pandering to that per- 
version, viz., addressing gaudy and expensive shows 
to the external senses. The elder dramatists were 
scholars and immortal poets writing to and for en- 
quiring and earnest-minded men. The intellectual 
vjantt of that age were large — their speculative 
faculties were fully developed— the grandest ques- 
tions and the highest deeds occupied men, and the 
theme must be high and the development fine that 
satisfied them. Bacon propounded the proposition 
of Nature and its causes — Raleigh and Sydney 
embodied the Chivalry — and a Faith, burning and 
sincere, sought to penetrate the deepest recesses of 
man's eternal destinies. It is not meant to be argued 
that in their own day, any of the great men of former 
times, who needed bread, were not as liable to be 
half-starved as they are now ; nor to be intimated 
that any such greatness exists in our day ; but sim- 
ply, that original greatness, besides alt the old diffi- 
culties and neglects, has now a trading mass of 
hostUe criticism against it, and that there is not the 
same enthusiasm to be half-starved as formerly. 
llie poets who speak to an age must be equal to 

it, or they will not be heard ; if far beyond it they 
will not be listened to, in so far as they are beyond 
it. The elder draniaLists having a ready access to the 
stage, and a cordial welcome, wrote with a full 
nature because their audiences felt it, and were not 
weak and dainty. Checked at every turn, our modem 
acted dramatists have Ibr the moat part sought to 
effect little moie than pastime for the hour. The 
difference is at least as mnch in the times and cir- 
cumstances as the men. 

It is not to depreciate, but to estimate, that we 
compare. Whatever the amount of their ability, 
the truly dramatic, as far as it exists on the 
modern stage at all, will be foimd in these com- 
paratively neglected writere of the minor drama, 
This neglect may be traced to one special cause — 
they are not "literary." The literary men were 
opposed to them, and so strongly was this felt, that 
one of them said to another who has subsequently 
become one of the most popular essayists of the 
day, " So, you have left us, and taken to litera- 
ture!" The Drama is so elastic as to embrace the 
highest poetry, philosophy, eloquence, wit, know- 
ledge and learning, as exemplified by him who was 
great in each and all. It can, however, exist without 
any of these qualities, and reaches in a graphic 
vista from " Punch" to jEschylua, Our modern 
play-wrighls (as they are nick-named) have sought 


only to please, and cared not to esercise more labour 
than was absolutely necessary for this end. Quick- 
ness — interest — invention — skill, were demanded and 
provided, and often wit, humour, fancy and pathos 
thrown into the bargain. 

In Jerrold's forty dramas who does not recognize 
an infinity of brilliant repartee — of fine sense and 
feeling? What a readiness in the dialogue! — 
what variety of characteristics ! So much, that if 
carefully woven into no greater number of plays 
than Congreve wrote, would have provided a far 
more lasting and deserved reputation than that 
licentious classic has obtained. " Doves in a Cage," 
the " Wedding Gown," " Nell Gwyn," the " Prisoner 
of War," and Ihe remainder of the long list, how 
abounding are they with sparkling glances and pun- 
gent satire on the humoursj follies and absurdities of 
existing life ! 

Mr. Buckstone ia nearly as prolific as Thomas 
Ueywood, and almost all his pieces have been sue- 
cessful, and deservedly so; that is, they have made 
hundreds and thousands laugh and cry, and speeded 
the hours of innumerable audiences. Quantity may 
not betoken quality, nor success merit, but still there 
must be, and there is, much of the latter in Buck- 
stone. He is a translator, a hunter up of old stones, 
a retailer of old jokes, an adapter and stage artizan, 
say many. So he is ; but stUl be does all these things 


with talent — he excellently adapts rather than trans- 
lates — and gives new life to an old joke by giving it 
congenial characteristics. His hand is hard, and his 
colouring coarse; but still he has a quick eye for 
social absurdities, knows the pulse of an audience, to 
the finest division ; is admirable in construction, and 
effect and possesses that very uncommon gift in an 
Englishman — a ceaseless flow of animal spirits, which 
is perhaps the main source of all his successes. 

Mr. Bernard, in his earlier career, dealt more in 
the sentimental ; and very delicate and high-toned 
were some of his dramas. They touched the chord 
of domestic feeling and rung a sharp and full vibra- 
tion from it. "A Man of Genius on his Last Legs" 
proved his rich sense of the absurd, as did many 
subsequent productions. lie too is essentially of his 

Mr. Oxenford has mastered the art of construc- 
tion, and can manufacture a piece for the stage as a 
cabinet-maker fashions an ingenious article. His 
idea of fun is great, and his fancy is governed by a 
highly cultivated and instructed judgment. Inven- 
tion and humour are his, as is evident to every one 
who has seen " A Day Well Spent."* 

Mr. Planchfi, if only for the extraordinary number of 
dramas he has successfully produced, would deserve 



ipecial notice. Original dramas, translations, farces, 
interludes, operas, Chrisfmaa pleasantries, &c. ; he 
has contributed npwards of one hundred pieces to 
the stage, and with the exception of only three 
" damnations" they have all been successful ! Mr. 
Planche has a vivid notion of manners, and depicts 
character as exemplified and modified by them, 
admirably. The fine lady of intrigue — the bat- 
tered debauchee of rank — the man of pleasure — he 
delineates well. He has a strong feeling for, and 
admiration of the artificial elegancies of life — con- 
siderable fancy — a ready invention in character 
and situation, and great skill in new adaptations ; 
not much wit or repartee, but a genial and laugh- 
able humour, and the rare art of throwing a re- 
fining atmosphere round even the most unpromising 
subjects. He has the most wary, watchful, logical 
head in the construction of a play, and could give 
instructions in this respect to some of the best 
dramatists, very much to their advantage. 

But we must pass on, and without particularizing 
the individual characteristics of the pens of the many 
ready writers'" who have set in motion the various 

Dance — and Leraan Rede — have each made a path 
for themselves, nor can it be doubted but they pos- 
sess in themselves the ability to produce something 
'ery superior to that which circumstance 



^H 98 

^^^H present coDdition of the stage requires at their hands ; 
^^^H snd MonciiefT only wanted to have fallen on a betb 
^^^H age to have been ranked with some of the dramatil^ 
^^^H of a nobler era. 

^^^^1 But have all the play-makers and stage-feeders 
^^^^P been named ? — Not a tenth part of them. Are all of 
^^^" the same abihty? — By no means, A catalogue as 
lengthy as that of Homer's ships might be made, 
though their fieights would by no means be so weighty. 
Shades of these shadows might be found ; second, 
third, and fourth transmitters of a weak original; 
^^^^ combinations of the ferocious and the witty, and 
^^^H imitators and constructors so faint and poor that the 
^^^V art is no longer concealed, and the mechanism is 
P apparent to all but the merest novices, or the most 

vapid imaginations. Surprises, rescues, and disco- 
Teries, perils, escapes, and disguises, so echoed and re- 
echoed that all effect is gone. Puns so obvious, 
allusions so dim, mistake bo absurd, disguises so 
^^^■^ thin, characteristics so exaggerated, equivokes so 
^^^1 bald, that no receding mind could be entertained, or 
^^^1 for a moment be deluded, by tliem. To particularize 
names here would be invidious. Though all who 
depress the age deserve as much castigation as those 
who by their talents raise it deserve eulogy, these are 
not of suiBcient importance. Collectively, only, they 
are so. With such as we have last mentioned, the 
drama has sunk fiom the educated and the tasteful 




to the uucultivated, and those of coarser pleasures, — 
from the refined gentleman to the intelligent trader, 
and from him to the small shop-keeper, the inferior 
class of operatives, the ignorant, and the degraded. 

The acted drama of our age is at the hest but of a 
poor kind. It has been popular because it was small, 
and it was small because it merely sought popularity. 
But the great heart of the world, although it beat 
faintly, has not lost its vitality ; and the sympathies, 
capacities, and wants of the human soul will mani- 
fest themselves. Whilst the stage only sought in 
general to shadow forth the smaller peculiarities of 
an actual and every-day life domesticity, there have 
been men in whom all the passionate energies and 
imaginings of our nature would burst forth. These 
men belonging to literature, and not to the stage, 
have been rightly designated as "unacted dramatists," 
and the press gave to the world what the corrupted 
stages were too sunken in their own earthy ruins to 
be able to believe in, or even recognize as having any 
affinity with their own exislence. The spirit of the 
drama no longer trod, but was trodden into " the 
boards," and therefore a set of unacted dramatists 
arose, and will some day be seen and heard. 

It has been erroneously fancied that inflated with a 
literary position and high notions, they both envied, 
and looked down upon their acted fraternity, and 
thought them mere usurpers. A greater calumny 


could not have been devised. On the contrary, 
unacted dramatists consider those at present occuj 
iDg the stage, to be its only Bupporters ; so far from 
envying their position, they consider their abilities 
underrated, and not sufficiently remunerated ; and in 
all their successes they sympathise and rejoice. But 
that in the pure element of dramatic composition they 
also consider themselves worthy to be "ranked with 
some of the dramatists of a nobler era," is undoubt- 
edly true, — and one of them has been heard to set at 
nought the scoffs of his time, by claiming to rank, in 
the pure elements of tragedy, with the dramatists of 
the Greek or Elizabethan ages.* How far any of 
those "high and remote" claims may have grounds, 
it is impossible to devote space for examination ; they 
are mentioned, however, to show at least the vitality 
and self-reliance of the dramatic spirit, and that, 
besides the known and acted men, there is a " brood" 
as yet beneath the earih, who may one day spring up 
like the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus. 

But it has been asked by some, even in our own 
■country, who, not seeing a play, are by no means sure 
of its existence — " Who are those unacted drama- 
tists?" The answer from lovers of the elder drama 
would be — " ShaksperC) in respect of at least two- 

i,"Buii"Oregoi7Vn.," for qM 
o bMT Ilia odium of uilng U 

, the 1 
:upy- • I 



thirdg of his plays ; and Ben Jonson, Beaumont and 
Fletcher, Ford, Webster, Marlowe, — in fact all the 
rest of the Elizabethan dramatists, who are absolutely 
unacted. Not to confuse the qneation, however, let 
us speak of the modern drama as it is ; — " Who thea 
are these unacted dramatists?" The answer unst 
be — " Nearly all the best authors." The knowledge 
of some and the ignorance of others of (he dramatic 
ari, is not, at present, the question ; the object is to 
show that all are treated with nearly the same exclu- 
sion ; in fact, that there is manifestly the strongest 
tendency in the present age to be dramatic, but 
its chief authors have no means of learning the 
art To go no further back than Byron, Southey, 
Shelley, Coleridge, the list includes almost every 
author eminent in woiks of imagination and in- 
vention. Even Wordsworth and Keats, — the two 
last men from whom anything in the shape of a 
drama could be expected, have written tragedies. 
Surely nothing can more directly show the breadth 
of the external influences of this Spirit of the Age. 
It has even penetrated to the heart of the aristocracy, 
asshownin the dramas of Lord Francis Egerton, Lord 
John Russell, Lord John Manners, Lord Beaumont, 
&c. ; the " Francesca di Faenza" of the latter, contain- 
ing some of the finest dramatic writing and situation 
fif modern times. 
f The Drama is a root : a theatrical show is a mere 


blossom. One is born of its age, the other grows 
tbrou£:h it, out of the past into the future. The poet 
deals with eternal nature, and the eternal eflTects of 
nature. The poetaster deals with the tastes of men 
as formed by their circumstances, and fiishifMied 
by convention and association ; the poet with the ' 
passions of men, and the qualities of things. The one 
is guided by mere association, the other by analogy.* 
The one by casual prejudices, the other by truths. 
The poetaster appeals to the pleasurable reccdlections 
and notions by association; the poet extends our 
knowledge and experience, making the soul wise, 
because he proceeds by analc^. There are two 
kinds of dramatists. He who seeks to reflect back 
the sentiments, feelings, prejudices, and foibles of 
the day ; who is at once an echo and a glass ; — and 
he who, passing by these common modes of pro- 
curing success, exemplifies the human creature in 
all the various phases that its intellect, temperament, 
passions, and desires produce. 

They may to a certain degree, and perhaps must, 
be mingled. But it is easy to see which mode will 
be pursued by those whose sole aim is the applause of 
" a house." At the hustings, the brawling reiteration 
of catch-words must be more successful (to use the 

• Mr. Henry Mayhew in his " What to teach, and how to teach it," was, we 
believe, the first author who forcibly marked out and illustrated this important 
distinction and theory. We also regard the treatises on the Drama by this gen- 
tleman's brother, Mr. Edward Mayhew, as highly deserving of careful study. 




favourite and hard-ridden modern phrase), than Plato 
or Coleridge, would have been, 

It may uaturally be expected that some space | 
should be devoted to the productions of two gentle- 
men who have written for the stage, and have 
.' attracted a large share of public attention by their 
well-merited successinother departments of literature, 
aa well as law, politics, and various valuable public 
services. But for these reasons, Mr. Serjeant Tal- 
fourd, and Sir. E. L. Biilwer, will receive a separate 
and more entire attention than could here be given 
to their claims. It will therefore be sufficient in 
the present paper to say that Talfourd — the re- , 
preeentattve of the classical drama, as Sheridaa 
Knowles is of the romantic, — did really " stand in the 
gap" during the periods when there were few, if any 
such dramas as have since been published ; and they 
jointly maintained the precarious existence of the 
English drama. Sir E. L. Bulwer, can hardly be 
considered as a dramatist, having pursued this class 
of writing, not from any strong internal gift and 
predominating impulse, but rather as a man of first- 
rate talent and ingenuity, who could produce any 
kind of literary article that might be in request, and 
having "all appliances and means to boot," could not 
very easily (though he has managed that, too, occa- 
sionally), do other than succeed. This justly admired, 
and far more dramatic novelist, was apparently drawn 


to the stage by the ambitioa and exdtcmait of a new 
and difficult paisoit, and erery finality for learning the 
arty and erery theatrical assistance bdi^ sedoloosly 
afforded him, his Teisatile ability and great industry 
were profitably rewarded. Above all things, however, 
his exertions for the fieedom of the stage, loi^ since, 
entitle him to the gratitude and respect of dramatists 
and actors. 

Of the histrionic Art, at the head of which, in this 
country, ilr. Macready has stood of late years, by 
legitimate succession no less than by superior attain- 
ments and energies, it will not be requisite to say 
much, nor of its professors, because the nature of 
their position renders their claims so well known 
to the public. But the Art and its professors become 
of additional importance when it is considered that 
they excite the efforts — and to do purpose,— of all the 
most enei^etic and creative intellects in our literature. 

While the biography and stage recollections of 
the most experienced mountebank of the time,"*^ 
whose *' experience" has been characterized by every 
d^ree of well-merited failure, could only produce, at 
best, a long account of trading speculations, and 
mechanical details, conducted with all the arrogance of 

* Here is an **«**»*^ of Uie power d " poriHoa** in tUa tamataj, and of im- 
tponability in a manager. A wdl-JciiowB aotiior of Um kiglwst abHitj, — Mr. 
BobertBell, a tnrthlal historian, an degant btograpber, and a ooofcientioas criti^ 
vIm is moreorer nnirenany r apec te d and esteemed, has been sal^ject to a great 
pablic iq|ai7f and, ap pa r o ill y, witboot any dianoe of rodrea. 



^^^ circi 

grossly Belf-satisfied ignorance, — it is impossible to 
conceive of any biographical and professional recol- 
lections which would involve so targe an amount of 
melancholy interest, to literary men more especially, 
as those of Mr, Macready. 

Nothing like sufEcient space couM here be given 
for such recollections as Mr, Macready's professional 
career must embody, even if we possessed the ma- 
terials. Buthow many phases of them present them- 
selves to the mind ? They must tell of early studies and 
difhculties, of efforts and disappointments, of renewed 
energies and labours, while vague aspirations and pal- 
bitions broke through the fogs and mists of 
circumstance, as did the dangerous vision of a crown 
in the yet uncertain mind of Macbeth. They 

!Uet tell of slow acquirements, slow advances, 
chagrins, mortifications, exasperations, and redoubled 
efforts, with some successes, though so disproportion- 
ate to the efforts, the hopes, and, in many cases, to 
the just deseits. Gradually they would display suc- 
cesses, and popular successes, and the rank of ''prin- 
cipal" in them, but not in the highest walk. Yet 
here would commence more completely the conscious- 
ness of that undue position over the intellectual men 
of a country, which every very successful actor or 
actress attains, in respect of one of the highest de- 
partments of literature. His recollections would 
now tell of dissatisfactions of position, and cast of 
p 5 


characters, and of nobler aims at greater excellence ; 
of his attainraent of the first class of characters, and 
his hard-earned successes in them, notwithstanding 
the ail-but eclipsing and overwhelming genius, energy, 
and unequalled popularity of Kean; — of tormenting 
struggles of rivalry, and to maintain his position; of 
his gradual security, and, by degrees, of his fortitude, 
temperance, and unconquerable jierse vera nee, bring- 
ing him his reward as sole possessor of the tragic 
throne, from which, step by step, with staggering 
power, his meteoric sword fading from his hand — his 
inspiration now bordering upon delirium — tlie intem- 
perate, heart-desolate wreck of Edmund Kean, with 
hands stiil grappling the shape- thronged air, reeled 
away half unconsciously into the darkness. 

Mr. Macready was now admissibly the first living 
tragedian; and if the anxiety of authors to obtain 
his assistance in the production of their pieces upon 
the stage had previously been great, it was now 
immensely increased; and their overtures, and flat- 
teries, and dedications, were enough to have turned 
the head of most men into that hallucinatory con- 
dition of mind, in which most potentates neces- 
sarily exist. Yet such is the contradictory nature 
of circumstances, and of theatrical circumstances 
above nearly all others, and such the predomina- 
ting power of external position in this country, 
above every kind of internal individual capacity. 



that at this same time Mr. Macready's position being 
that of an actor under that of a manager, it signified 
nothing that he was immeasurably superior, in him- 
self and in every attainment, — he was nevertheless 
subject to the grossest ill-treatment and insult from 
one of the lowest. How that unbearable condition 
of things terminated, ia well known ; and how univer- 
sally did Mr. Macready carry with hira the sympa- 
thy and approval of all educated men, and of all true 
lovers of the Drama, of common justice, and com- 
mon decency, must be equally fresh in the memory of 
the public. There was no other alternative, and 
Macready became a Manager. 

It is not requisite to dwell upon this gentleman's 
great successes in what he sought to efTect, as 
matter of taste in the " getting up" of dramas ; nor 
upon his repeated failure, as matter of pecuniary 
speculation. His influence upon the national intellect 
as a manager, must, however, come under discus- 
sion, together with a view of managerial influence, 
generally, whether in this, or any other country. 
Nor can we do better than quote a few remarks on 
the rise of the drama iu Spain, — for though they are 
applied to the neglect expenenced by Cervantes, the 
pith of the whole question will be seen to be one 
and the same. 

"Tfthe onlj thiQg leqaiaite iu order to origiDsU, to rerive, to 
refarm, oi to re-crsBta tlie dmma of » GiriUied (Kiimtiy, wM dnunatia 


genius ; if to possess the facultj and execute the woik, as matter of 
literary composition, were all that was needed to produce the effect 
or commence its development, — then perhaps might the name of 
Cervantes have stood parallel in Spain with the highest names of our 
dramatists of the age of Elizabeth. But between original dramatic 
genius, and its desired attempts, there come three powerful inter- 
mediates, auj one of which may prevent the very chance of f&ii trial, 
or any trial at all, — these are the public tastes of the day, influence of 
capital (or the want of it), and the individual capacities and charac- 
ters — in fact the private taste of managers of theatres. The public 
taste may be good or vicious, its reception of new things is always a 
doubtful matter; capital is rarely, if ever, embarked upon a new 
thing of ideal pretensions ; and to say that a particular novelty of 
any kind would be to the interest of a manager to produce, might be 
true, or untrue, — that is not the question, but what he thinks, and 
chooses to do ; and whether he be very wise or very ignorant, he has 
hitherto been ' the law/ as to what genius or talent should make its 
appeal to the public through the medium of the stage."* 

Apart from all other considerations, that a public 
professing to understand, and certainly having so 
universal an admiration of Shakspere, should not 
have sufficiently patronized a manager who displayed 
so much anxiety to produce his plays under the name 
of ^^ revivals," with a prodigality of scenic illustra- 
tion and supernumerary appointments, all excellent, 
expensive, appropriate, and skilfully applied — but 
that, on the contrary, the public should in very few 
instances be found sufficiently numerous (as the pay- 
ing portion of the audience) to half-fill the theatre 

• Essaj on " The Dramatic Mind of Europe,'' bj R. H. Home. 


vfler the excitement of the first three or four nights, 
8o that eventually the accomplished and indefatigable 
manager is obliged to go to America to recover his 
health and retrieve his damaged fortunes, — would 
appear to be one of the raoBt inexplicable problems 
of modem times, if not one of its deepest disgraces. 
Still, there must be some solution to this ? Perhaps 
the public may not, after all, be so perverse as ap- 
i The truth is so important to all the interests 

[ of dramatic literature and the stage, that, if it can he 
discovered, some hope of a remedy and a new and 
prosperous course might perhaps be descried, A few 
opinions and suggestions shall therefore be offered 
in these concluding pages. 

Whatever troubles, pertinacities, and wearisome 
■tipplications Mr. Macready may have experienced 
from the authors of dramas previous to his becoming 
a manager, it cannot be doubted hut that they must 
have multiplied prodigiously afterwards. The most 
improbable plots, or the most inextricable non-con- 
structions, with characters at once monstrous and 
imbecile, outrageous and inconsequential, are for- 
warded to managers by hundreds every season, from 
the pens of educated, half educated, and totally un- 

^educated men, — without the ability to put two acts, 
■ perhaps two scenes, together with consecutive 

I action and direct purpose; without an idea of con- 

I Nstency in any one character ; without the least pre- 


vision of elfects upon an audience ; with a total 
disregard of what is convenient or impossible in the 
nature and sequence of scenery; yet each one be- 
lieving that Ills play is, of all others, the most eligible 
to the manager, and — if the notion of a " cast" occurs 
at all — the most ehgible for the talents of the given 
company. The fate of all these pieces may be antici- 
pated. But there is another class of men, who at 
intervals of from one to three years, transmit dramatic 
productions to managers. These authors are not 
numerous ; some of them are known in the literary 
world, some not They are, for the most part, 
solitary students of nature and the passions, of phi- 
losophy, of hterature, and of art; they have worked 
secretly for years, and the midnight lamp and the 
shadow on the wall have been sole witnesses of their 
toils, their enthusiasms, and their aspiring dreams. 
Straitened in means, no doubt, they usually are, 
so that at last the time which they have given to 
preparing themselves to be worthy of some honour, 
needs a little remuneration. And these men are 
treated precisely with the same rejection and neglect 
as those previously described. So certainly as they 
have Buffered themselves to be deluded by the com- 
pliments and exhortations to publish their tragedies 
or plays, and to renew their efforts in the same class 
of composition, so certainly have they been injured in 
the worst way; their time, their energies, and their 


health wasted^ and in cases where the impulse was 
too strong to be checked^ and they have had no 
private resources^ they have been ruined. That the 
dramas they forwarded to managements were un- 
skilful in some respects^ dangerous in others, and 
wanting practical assistance in many, cannot admit 
of a doubt ; but it is questionable if they were more 
unskilful, dangerous, or wanting, than those accepted 
and acted productions which, with every assistance 
from managers and actors, have proved ruinous to all 

Abundant examples might be adduced to prove 
this. Perhaps the two most striking would be those 
of "Martinuzzi'' and •* Plighted Troth"— the first 
produced under the auspices of unexperienced ama- 
teurs and conflicting practical opinions ; the other 
produced by a most experienced management, and 
all governed by one head. It may be said that 
Mr. Macready did not incur a loss exceeding five 
or six hundred pounds by the disastrous failure of 
" Plighted Troth," whereas the chivalrous experiment 
of Mr. Stephens cost him perhaps, in all, more than 
double that sum. Yet that was caused by his own 
will, — his resolve not to be conquered, but to play a 
five-act tragedy in defiance of an absurd law, and of 
the friends of the old managerial system ; and this 
he did during upwards of twenty nights. " Plighted 
Troth," be it admitted, contained, as well as *' Mar- 


tinuzzi/' several scenes of true dramatic genius ; it 
was the bad judgment of all parties that made them 
both look so preposterous. 

But if the unacted Drama be held in no regard by 
theatrical people, it is not much more esteemed by 
the majority of the public press. The slightest acted 
piece often has a long notice ; whereas^ of an unacted 
tragedy or comedy anything, or nothing, may be 
said, — and any thing with impunity.* 

'*Bat the Unacted, and consequently the unaided Drama, has at 
length made some progress ; under every disadvantage, with every 
thing in its disfavour, it has made its way against its well-provided 
opponent. The Acted Drama, with all the aid of numerous actors, 
beautiful paintings, charming music — with all the dazzling fascinations 
that belong to public shows — with fashion, custom, and hereditary 
predilection in its favour.-^has dwindled and degenerated, until the 
voice of criticism, of the Dramatists themselves, and of the intellec- 
tual part of the public, have declared it inferior in mental power to 
the Unacted ; — have declared that, with all the facilities that practice 
can give, with all the means that experience and knowledge can 
afford, it is more essentially deficient in the true elements of dramatic 
power, than the Unacted. The Unacted Drama may have awkward- 
nesses, incongruities, and even absurdities, from its not having the 
advantages of experience and practical exercise. But that it is great 
in conception, powerful in expression, strong in originality, and 
vigorous from its freshness, is allowed. It has again dared to step 

* A professional critic, in a fit of frank cordiality, onee told a certain un- 
acted dramatist, that he had written disparagingly of his tragedy from a pre- 
judice he had conceived against him on account of Lis superabundant whiskers 
—and he regretted it. The oflTending hair had since been cut off, and he was 
reconciled. It never struclt this critic that the use of a public organ for any 
trivial private prejudice or purpose, was a startUng confession! 


vitbia tlie tflnific circle of Ibe possioziB, and to show in appalling 
Blrifa thow nevet-dying elemanlB of humimity."* 

What with the claims of the able and the iiicom- 
petent, the reasonable and the unreasonable, the mea 
of genius and taleut with a defiiiiCe aim, and the men 
of self-delusion and a puzzled will, — the logical heads 
and the half insane, the sound advice of one friend, 
the flattering advice of another, and the retreating 
opinion of all, as the manager himself began to come 
to a decision — Mr. Macready must have had a most 
feverish seat of power, and a moat troublesome and 
thankless reign. Tlie bad success here which caused 
him to make a trip to America, has very possibly 
been the saving of his bfe and health, and may be 
regarded as a gratulatory result by everybody, since 
everybody must look, forward with interest to his 
career, which will probably be renewed in this coun- 
try by fresh " revivals" of Shakspere in one of the 
smaller theatres. So placed, with a less lavish ex- 
penditure in gorgeous redmidancies and real uphol- 
stery, and wisely confining himself to the old esta- 
blished stock pieces, he would most probably be very 
successful; and that he would be most deservedly so, 
there can hardly exist a doubt. But he should 
carefully avoid all new pieces, and all pretence of en- 
couraging living dramatists ; first, because, instructed 


by long experience^ he mast have fonnd that it is his 
destiny to select mediocrity or failure ; and secondly, 
because he will thus cease to excite the efforts and 
occupy the time of men of intellect^ to no purpose. 

Mr. Macready's merits as an actor are far greater 
than his defects; let us therefore contemplate the 
former, chiefly. He is the first artist on the stage. ^ 
On all those innumerable points of art connected 
with the stage, which he has studied from his youth, 
there is no one who possesses more knowledge or 
skill in their application ; and no one possesses both 
in an equal degree. He is rarely " at home" in any- 
thing new, either of principle or practice, without 
long study, if then. His conception is slow, and by 
degrees ; nor does it ever attain beyond a certain 
point. That point is the extremity of all that his 
study and practice can discover and embody; and it 
is very much. He has no revelations of genius, no 
inspirations except those which are unconsciously 
** given off" at times from great physical energies. 
If he had any such revelations, he would adopt them 
doubtfully, and partially, and so defeat their essential 
meanins:. But when he does embrace the whole of 
a character (such as William Tell, Coriolanus, lago, 
Cardinal Wolsey, King John,) he leaves little 
undone, and all the rest to admire, in the highest 
degree. He dresses to perfection. He is the only 
man on the stage who seems to have a fine eye for 

uacrejioy. 115 

true harmony of colour. Sometimes he has allowed 
splendid dresses to be destroyed by an equally 
splendid back-ground of similar colour, but never 
when he himself is in front of it. If he wore but a 
blanket, he would have a back-ground that should 
make that blanket the most gracious object the eye 
could rest upon — perhaps the focus of all attraction. 
He reads poetry very badly, as to rhythm — broken 
up — without melody — harsh — unmusical — shattered 
prose ; and yet he speaks with exquisite distinct- 
ness, and very impressively, because he is thoroughly 
in earnest. There is great finish in all he does — a 
definite aim, clearly worked out — and those who find 
little to admire in his acting, the fault is in them. 

Ab b manager he has unexampled merits in his , 
attempt to separate the theatres from their long- 
established union with bare-faced licentiousness. It 
is to his great and lasting honour that he is the first 
manager who seems ever to have felt that Art has i- 
lothing in common with " the town." Great merit is 
vtUflo due to him for his indefatigable industry and 
attention to all the business of the theatre One 
instance of his thoughtful care, though to the outside 
of the walls, should be noticed ; he successfully de- 
lated the hrutaiity which characterizes an English 
tdience in entering the pit on crowded nights ; and 
: public, especially the female portion, should be 
rateflil &>t so needful an attention. Hia exertions 

lit! eaEBIDATf EM0WLE3 

to improve the stage arrangements and appointmeats, 
are well known; they extended from broad effects 
down to the minutest details, — perhaps the former 
were sometimes injured by the latter. He made the 
supernumeriiries acl — a mortal labour, He not only 
multiplied the brood of these "turkeys," but he 
crammed them, and made men and women of them. 
It has been currently reported — probably on no 
better grounds than because he does not sing the 
drinking song of lago — that Mr. Macready does not 
understand, or care for music. This can hardly be 
true: he has introduced music amidst the Shaks- 
perean dialogue, and at "times and seasons" iu a far 
more poetical way than any other manager. He has 
applied fine scenery and dioramic effects to Shak- 
spere more appropriately to the sense of the words, 
than were ever done before ; but as to the effect upon 
the action (excepting in the Chronicle plays where 
the want of action might justify extraneous aid,) and 
aa to the effect upon the poetry, in all cases, there 
can be no doubt that both are injured by the predo- 
minating, and sometimes overwhelming effect upon 
the external senses — not intended by the poet. As 
a manager of business, and in all agreements and 
pecuniary dealings, Mr. Macready has always been 
liberal, generous, thoroughly to be relied upon, and 
of unimpeachable integrity. 

But the merits of an individual, as an actor or 



inanBger,or botli, however great and meritorious, must 
isarily be a small matter in themselves com- 
pared with their in6uence and effect upon one of the 
highest departnientsof the literature of a great nation. 
This, on the whole, in Mr. Macready's case, may 
be pronounced as good^ — an aggregate advantage, 
though bad in its individual instances. Good, 
inasmuch as it has largely assisted in stirring 
up the dramatic Spirit of the country ; bad, in- 
asmuch as, with some three or four exceptjons, 
it has led to nothing but labour in vain. He 
has advised or exhorted nearly every author who 
sent him a drama of any pretensions, to publish it — 
and write another, — write another by all means — that 
he could do the thing if he would, — why did he not] 
&c. Mr. Macready, throughout his whole career, 
has produced on the stage no great or standard work 
of dramatic genius ; or, if " Ion" and " Virginius" be 
regarded as exceptions, who will name a third ? — and 
he has wasted the time of more men of genius and 
talent than any other individual on record. 

Mr. Macready shares a pait of the latter accusation 
with high authorities for precedent. Even Garrick did 
not produce on the stage any new stock tragedy of 
the first class; nor did the Kemble family, nor did 
Edmund Kean. These facts seem to lead to the con- 
|.clusion that managers and actors, when unassisted 
B>y established reputations, have no taste for anything 


beyond second and third-rate plays. It is in vain to 
say they could find no better than they produced* 
Too truly they could not. No one finds that which 
he has no soul to search for, or no eye to perceive* 
The great discoveries in the physical world by men 
of science were not their inventions; the things 
were there before they searched. They discovered 
the things they sought, because they knew them 
when they saw them ; and the powers of nature are 
not limited to any particular age. The "mighty 
dead" are not mighty becatise they are dead — though 
it would seem that so many people think so. They 
were once alive, and laughed at. 

Mr. Macready's character (we deal only with such 
elements of it as are directly or indirectly of public 
influence,) is made up of stronger opposites than is 
usual, however common those antagonisms are in 
forcible characters. He has great energies of action, 
and a morbid will. He has a limited imagination, 
with a large ambition. His imagination is slow and 
dull of vision, but quick and sensitive to feel. It, 
therefore, continually misleads him beyond retreat. 
For this reason, his hasty judgments are always 
wrong, and his slow judgments futile from exhausted 
impulses. In these respects he has been much as- 
sisted by Mr. Serle. It is evidently the opinion of 
this gentleman that a cold dispassionate judg- 
ment is the only popular test of excited imagina- 



tions. His advice, therefore, is always judicious, and 
ineffectual. But it is quite a mistake to suppose that 
Mr. Macready is misled by the advice of friends. We 
are aware that Mr. Forster and Mr. Serle have been 
commonly accused of thisj but we think very unjustly. 
Mr. Macready takes no advice but that which backs 
his own opinion. His constant errors in judgment 
show that they proceed from the same man. His 
spirit is a hot-headed steed, capable of leaping great 
conclusions; but he wants &ilh in those things, and 
in himself, which would enable him to succeed 
greatly ; and when he does leap, he makes up for a long 
arrear of doubts by wilfuhiess, and " falls on the other 
side." He has genial feelings, but a morbid fancy 
which troubles them. It pains him to laugh. His 
temperament is impetuous, hia hopes dreary, his 
purposes high-minded, his opinions conflicting, and 
"his luck against him," with his own assistance. 
He boldly incurred the odium of allowing Anti- 
Corn-law meetings in Covent Garden, besides giving 
an arm-sweeping slash at recent taxations in a fare- 
well address; and he made a speech to the poor 
Duke of Cambridge, on receiving a " testimonial," at 
which all his best friends blushed, and he himself, 
before the farce was concluded, which had cost so 
much pains to get up, wished a large trap-door 
would unbolt itself beneath his feet. As a patron of 
modern dramatic literature, he has been totally mia- 



r...- -.. 

^H^ kind in future, the better for all partiee, As a &u] 
porter of tbe Shaksperean drama, and all the fine oil 
" stock pieces," he has not been encouraged accordi 

»to his deserts; and, with alt his faults, the want 
sufficient patronage in his own country, is discreditabl 
to the age. 
Few men ever had the sympathiea of the public 
more completely in their power than Sheridan 
KnowleB. Scarcely any imprudence or deficiency that 
he could be guilty of, in a new play, would cause the 
^^ audience to damn it, though they might not go again 
^^b to see it. With Macready the case is different. He 
^^p always has enemies in the "house," and a larg^l 
party, or parties, against him out of the " hi 
Some for one thing, some for another, abstract or 
personal, private or public. Strong and unfailing 
friends he aloo has, and they form a party, thougl 
comparatively a small one, and rapidly decreasinj 
Like all very anxious men, Mr. Macready, besides his 
bad judgment, is unlucky; and Mr. Kuowles, like 
ail careless men, is usually in good luck, notwitfa- 

» standing his equal deficiency in judgment. The one 
" darkens averse " at all critical strictures, the other 
calls every critic he meets /' my dear boy." Mr. 
Macready has had, however, to endure many ill-na- 
tured and personal remarks and insinuations from 
L various parties — some who were, and others whp 



thought they were aggrieyed by him; and on the other 
hand, he has had the advantage of more assistance, 
systematic and instant to his need, from the public 
press, than almost any other individual of his day, 
If those who have publicly uttered anonymous com- 
plaints against him were known, with all their affairs 
in relation lo him, there would be a better means of 
judging the case among all parlies; and, on the 
other hand, if his public applaudera and supporters 
were known, with all their affairs in relation to 
him, there would be a better means of judging 
among all parties. As it is, all the parties must " fret 
it out," till, sooner or later, a change conies over the 
whole scene — some grand general explosion takes 
place— the atmosphere clears, and a fair, open field 
for dramatists may then give them the means of 
proving their existence. 

So great are the difficulties attending five-act 
pieces, either tragedies, comedies, or plays, that 
there is no instance of a successful author in them, 
throughout our literature of the present day. No, there 
is not one. Shall we mention Mr. Sheridan Knowlea, 
who has written three or four times as many five-act 
pieces as any other author, all of which have been 
acted ? What is his success ? One tragedy, scarcely 
ever played now; and two comedies. Hia last /our 
dramas have been dead failures, notwithstanding their 
fine detached scenes, dialogues, and genuine poetry. 
VOL. II, a 




Shall we name Sir E. L. Bulwer 7 With all the 
feesional friendshtp and assistaiice he has bad from 
Macready and otbere, and Dotwithstandin^ his great 
ingcDuity, and tact, aod versatile skill, his dramatic list 
preeeots marked failures, with two exceptions, only 
one of which is now acted. Mr. Serjeant Talfourd's 
Buccess rests upon one tragedy, seldom acted. As for 
the many great " discoveries" of Mr. Macready, they 
have vanished for ever. We allude to such equivocal 
tragedies as " Mary Stewart," " Plighted Troth," the 
much-puffed "Gisippus!" &;c. &c. There has never 
been in our own times one successful acted dramatist 
of the higher class. Yet some of these writers (as 
well as others less known, or not known at all) are 
probably able to achieve many successes, could they 
bave prnctically mastered their art. To do this there 
is no opportunity. The difficulties of the art are not 
greater than the difficulty of obtaining any sufficient 
means of study and experiment. The man who 
has succeeded most profitably, is the one who has 
had most of these means and " appliances." 

There are no doubt a dozen good collateral causes 
for the decline of the acted drama ; but those at the 
root of the matter are simply these, — that the actors, 
who never did, and never can, originate or contribute 
to, a Dramatic Literature, have got the exclusive 
power of the stage ; — that authors of genius have no 
free aeccss to the stage for the production of pieces 

e pro- ] 

n Mr. I 



that originate in their oirn strongest impulses; — and 
that nearly all critical literature is arrayed against 
them by reason of the total disbelief in their practic- 
able existence, or the possible composition of actable 
dramas which are not seen. We need seek no more 
causes than these. There is a body without a soul j 
and the body has got the visible position. 

The Drama (meaning its literature,) like the Ag^ , 
has been at the lowest, and both are manifestly rising 
to a purer taste. Whether the circumstances of ' 
modern society and civilization are eventful enough 
to give new incidents to the Drama, may be doubted. 
If not, it must and will, in future, take a more imagi- 
native and philosophical lone. 

A visible Drama more nearly allied to the universal 
genius of the age must arise now that physical r^ 
Btraints are removed by the late legislation. The new 
order of dramatists, both acted and unacted, ftnly 
await the man, come when he may, who, having' the 
material means in his power, shall mould a form con- 
genial to the present spirit of the age ; and this once 
done, the abundant existing dramatic genius will 
gather round it, and the Drama again become popular. 
It will of course be understood, that no removal of legal 
restrictions, nor any other outward circumstances can 
bring about a new dramatic period, unless dramatisbi 
Jiave a ready access to theatres, and the services of the 

!st actors, Withoutthese, any possible number of the 


most genuine dramatists would not be of the least aval 
They would be like disembodied souls ; or like 
gon load of gold on the wrong side of a turnpike, where 
gold was not recognized. But with these necessary 
aids, a Drama will again be created. Theories that^ 
have long oppressed it, circumstances tliat have 
stunted and destroyed it, are rapidly passing away*,, 
The hope that external circumstances could re-ignil 
it, must now be for ever abandoned. Actor an(F 
actress, manager and mountebank, bandmaster and 
speculator, one after another, fail to do so ; and the 
hope of their being ever able to effect a revival of the 
Drama, or a dramatic success of any kind, — the m< 
pertiuacious of those fallacies clung to by those wbt 
call themselves " the practical men," — is now utterly 
extinguished. The utmost that Garrick effected — 
perhaps the most generally accomplished and versa- 
tile actor that ever lived — was merely to make tl 
theatre fashionable, and " a rage." If it be true thai 
he also improved or even created a better taste, 
did nothing to produce or aid the creation of the 
thing tasted. It was there before him. The same 
may be said of the Kembles ; and of Edmund Keaa. 
Much moie has been aimed at by Mr. Macready, 
but not with much better success. Shakspere im- 
proved the Drama of his time, and created fresh 
dramas. An actor can only improve or injure taste. 
jMr. Macready has done both — improved taste in pofr- 




id I 

the ^^ 





tical scenery, and the " getting up," and injured it 
in almost confirming the taste for expensive uphol- 
stery and display. The imagination of creative dra- 
matists can alone call forth any new spirit and form 
of Drama. The most profuse and admirable external 
aids can only foster mediocrity, and are so far detri- 
mental because they dazzle and mislead the public 
judgment till it cannot distinguish the essential from 
the extraneous. 

That the good management of a theatre requires 
I'the power to be vested in one man, is no doubt true ; 
and perhaps — when we look at the discordant and con- 
flicting talents, vanities, and interests, all in vigorous 
motion — his power should be almost despotic. But 
how far it is good for such management to be vested in 
a principal actor, in fiiU possession of his acting facul- 
ties, is another question. Instead of enlai^ing the 
sphere of the drama, he is sure to narrow it to his own 
exclusive standard. Instead of rendering it universal, 
he will make it particular. Instead of a reflexion of 
humanity, it will become the pampered image of an 
individual. " I cannot see myself in this part," is a fa- 
vourite expression of Mr, Farren's when he does not 
like a new play ; and may be taken as a general cha- 
racteristic of all the " stars." The stars, however, are 
disappearing, and with them the long suite of their 
retainers, the scenery-mongers, decorators, restorers, 
^ilors, antiquarians, upholsterers, who have had their 




day. Capitalists have backed them with unbounded' 
wealth ; experience has lent them all her aid ; trickery 
all her cunning ; puffery all her placards, bills, para- 
graphs, and the getting up of " etories ;" the press all 
its hundred tongues, telling of their nightly doings — 
besides the special tongues in cases where a public 
organ has been a private engine — and what has 
been the result? Bankruptcies, failures, dispersions, 
flights, half-salaries, no salaries, farewell dinners, 
debts, prisons, — and fresh candidates for the fatal seat. 
The fresh candidate, who in most cases is a fine ol4 
hand at a failure, usually finds a fresh capitalist 
to back him. " He is a man of such practical ex- 
perience !" says the capitalist. Mooncalf! of what 
is his experience f Are not the practical results of all 
his efforts precisely of a kind to make every capitalist 
in his rational senses, start back from his disastrous 
"experience?" But there is also another peculiarity 
attached to a managerial lease-holder. He pays peo- 
ple if he can ; if he cannot, he laughs in their faces. 
Anybody else would be arrested, or knocked down, or 
something. He stands in a sporting attitude; and 
nothing happens to him ! Every now and then, when 
a dashing speculating sort of " man about town" tinds 
himself totally without money, and does not know 
what in the world to do next, he says to himself, — 
"Damme! I'll take a theatre!" Very likely ha 
ill find backers with money as soon as he has takea 



it ; in any case, the proprietors are all too happy to let 
him the house. He invariably fails. Some are paid, 
many not. Who cares ? That dashing speculator is 
not a scamp, " bless your heart !" — but an excellent 
good fellow.- He has such enterprise in him ! — such 
experience ! Why, the impudent rogue absolutely 
risked nothing — ^he had nothing to risk. Oh, but he 
has such enterprise ! And thus with two unexamined 
catch-words — enterprise and experience — the pro- 
prietors of theatres, and the poor mooncalf capitalist, 
delude and injure themselves and the public. 

How totally inapplicable to Mr. Macready must be 
any of the preceding remarks, with reference to pecu- 
niary dealings, need not be repeated ; it is the more 
to be regretted that the system he pursued of profuse 
expenditure upon extrinsic adornments, was of a kind 
which never can prove successful, and which, for his 
sake, as well as that of the poetry of the Drama, we 
most earnestly trust he will never repeat. 

During periods when the Drama and the stage 
have been almost at the last ebb, it should be recol- 
lected that Sheridan Knowles and Mr. Macready 
have continually exerted themselves to open new 
springs, or recal the retiring waters. If in vain, their 
indefatigable energies are at least worthy of admira- 
tion. Both have now been before the public these 
twenty-five or thirty years, and have well earned the 
estimation they have obtained. Mr. Knowles com- 


menced his career as an actor, but has some time 
since abandoned it. He is still in vigorous life> and 
full of excellent spirits — poetical, convivial, and 
Hibernian. In private he is a prodigious favourite 
with all who know, him ; frank, burly, smiling, off- 
hand, voluble, and saying whatever comes upper- 
most; with a large heart beating under a great 
broad and deep chest, not easily accessible to care of 
trouble, but constitutionally jovial and happy, Mr. 
Macready in private is good-natured, easy, unaffected, 
without the least attempt at display, extremely gen- 
tleman-like, habitually grave, and constitutionally 
saturnine. His smile is melancholy, and his ex- 
pression is occasionally of great kindness. He speaks 
little ; with frequent hesitation, but well : with good 
sense, and enlarged and benevolent sympathies, 
moral and political. His views of art are confused 
between the real and ideal. Mr. Knowles occasion- 
ally delivers Lectures on the Drama, which are con- 
spicuous for no philosophy or art, and an abundance 
of good humour and the warmest admiration of his 
favourite authors. 




G 5 

" Flower of the Soul f emblem of sentient Thoughts, 
With prayer on prayer to chorded harps ascending. 
Till at the clouded Portals, humbly bending, 
They, like the holy martyrs' pale coh6rts, 

Wait solemnly— while sounds of dew descending 
Their presence recognize, approve, and bless ; — 
Flower i shedding fragrance £nom a dark recess. 
Thy roots lie passive on this mortal soil ; 
Thy beauty blooms on high— serene beyond our coil V* 

** As one who drinks from a charmed cup 

Of foaming and sparkling and murmuring wine, 

Which a mighty Enchantress, filling up. 

Invites to love with her lips divine." 


" Thy Mind shines through thee like a radiant sun. 
Although thy body be a beauteous cloud." 

Bbadmoxt and Flbtcheb. 





It is anything but handsome towards those who 
were criticised, or fair towards the adventurous 
critic, to regard, as some have done^ the article on 
" Modern English Poetesses," which appeared a 
few years ago in the '* Quarterly Review," as a tri- 
bute merely of admiration. It was a tribute of 
justice ; and hardly that, because nine ladies were 
reviewed, of very different kind and degree of merit, 
all in the same article. Eight were allowed to wear 
their laurels ; the ninth fell a victim. Passing over 
the victim, who shall be nameless, we will say, 
that the poetical genius, the impassioned fervour, 
the knowledge of genuine nature and of society, of 
books, of languages, of all that is implied by the 
term of accomplishment, and '^ though last, not 
least," the highly cultivated talent in the poetic art, 
displayed by the other eight, are such as to entitle 


them to a higher position than several of the " re- 
ceived" poets of the past and present centuries. 

The list we have named compriseB, Mrs. Norton ; 
Miss E. B. Barrett; Maria del Occldente; Lady 

Northampton (author of "Irene"); CarohneSouthey; 
Miss Lowe; the Author of "IX Poems;" Sara Cole- 
ridge ; and one other, a lady of rank, whom it was a 
pity to introduce in company where she has no claim 
to rank. The reviewer proposed to make a wreath 
of them after the manner of Meleager, and appro- 
priately commenced with Mrs. Norton as " the 
Rose, or, if she like it, Love-lies-a-hleeding ;" and 
Miss Barrett as " Greek Valerian, or Ladder to 
Heaven, or, if she pleases, Wild Angelica." The 
former lady is well known, personally, to a large 
and admiring circle, and is also extensively known 
to the reading public by her works. The latter 
lady, or " fair shade " — whichever she may be — is 
not known personally, to anybody, we had almost 
said; but her poetry is known to a highly intellec- 
tual class, and she " lives " in constant correspon- 
dence with many of the most eminent persons of 
tiie time. When, however, we consider the many 
strange and ingenious conjectures that are made in 
after years, conceruiog authors who appeared but 
little among their contemporaries, or of whose bio- 
graphy little is actually known, we should not be 
in the least surprised, could we lift up our ear out 



A.Sa MB9. NORTON. 133 

L of our grave a century hence, to hear some learned 
I Thebans expresEing elirewd doubts as to whether 
such an individual as Miss E. B, Barrett had ever 
really existed. Letters and notes, and exquisite 
English lyrics, and perhaps a few elegant Latin 
and spirited translations from iEschylus, 
night all be discovered under that name ; but this 
t would not prove that such a lady had ever dwelt 
r among us. Certain admirable and erudite prose 
articles on the " Greek Christian Poets," might 
likewise be ascertained by the exhumation of sundry 
private letters and documents, touching periodical 
I titerature, to have been from the hand of that same 
" Valerian ;" but neither the poetry, nor the prose, 
nor the delightfully gossipping notes to fair friends, 
nor the frank correspondence with scholars, such 
as Lady Jane Grey might have written to Roger 
Ascham — no, not even if the great-grandson of 
some learned Jewish doctor could show a note in 
Hebrew (quite a likely thing really to be extant) 
with the same signature, darkly translated by four 
letters, — nay, though he should display as a relic 
treasured in his family, the very pen, with its oblique 
Hebraic nib, that wrote it — not any one, nor all of 
those things could be sufficient to demonstrate the 
fsLCt, that such a lady had really adorned the present 

In such chiaroscuro, therefore, as circumstances 


permit, we nill endeavour tu offer sufficient grouDds 
for our readers' belier, to the end tbat posterity may 
at least have the best authorities and precedents we 
can fiimish. Confined entirely to her own apart- 
ment, and almost hermetically sealed, in consequence 
of some extremely delicate state of health, the poetess 
of whom we write is scarcely seen by any but her 
own family. But though thus separated from the 
world — and often> during many weeks at a time, in 
darkness almost equal to that of night. Miss Barrett 
has yet found means by extraordinary inherent ener- 
gies to develops her inward nature; to give vent to 
the soul in a successful struggle with its destiny 
while on earth; and to attain and master more 
knowledge and accomplishments than are usually 
within the power of those of either sex who possess 
every adventitious opportunity, as well as health and 
industry. Six or seven years of this imprisonment 
she liaa now endured, not with vain repinings, though 
deeply conscious of tlie loss of external nature's 
beauty; but with resignation, with patience, with 
cheeifulnesE, and generous sympathies towards the 
world without; — with indefatigable "work" by 
thought, by book, by the pen, and with devout faith, 
and adoration, and a high and hopeful wailing for the 
time when this mortal frame "putteth on immortality." 
The period when a strong prejudice existed against 
learned ladies and " blues" has gone by, some time 



since; yet ia case any elderly objections may sUll 
exist on this score, or that some even of the most 
liberal-minded readers may entertKin a degree of 
toubt as to whether a certain austere excliiaiveness 
and un<^enial pedantry might infuse a slight tinge 
into the character of ladies possessing Miss Barrett's 
Bttaiuments, a few words may be added to prevent 
erroneous impressions on this score. Probably no 
' fiving individual has a more extensive and diffuae 
acquaintance with literature — that of the present 
day inclusive — than Miss Barrett. Although she 
has read Plato, in the original, from beginning to 
I end, and the Hebrew Bible from Genesis to Malachi 
[ (nor suffered her course to be stopped by the Chal- 
dean), yet there is probably not a single good 
romance of the most romantic kind in whose mar- 
vellous and impossible scenes she has not delighted, 
1 over the fortunes of whose immaculate or incredible 
f beroes and heroines she has not wept; nor a clever 
novel or fanciful sketch of our own day, over the 
brightest pages of which she lias not smiled inwardly, 
or laughed outright, just as their authors themselves 
would have desired. All of this, our readers may be 
assured that we believe to be as strictly authentic as 
the very existence of the lady in question, although, 
as we have already confessed, we have no absolute 
knowledge of tliis fact, But lest the reader should 
^exclaim, " Then, after all, there really may be no 

136 Mies B. B. BARItETT 

such person!" we ehould bear witness to having 
been shown a letter of Miss Mitrord's to a friend, 
from which it was plainly to be inferred that she 
had actually seen and conversed with her. The date 
has unfortunately escaped us. 

We cannot admit that any picture, engraving, or 
other portrait of Mrs. Norton with which the public 
has been favoured does full justice to the original ; 
nevertheless they may be considered as likenesses, 
to a certain extent, and by reason of these, and her 
popular position as an authoress, any introductory 
remarks on the present occasion would he needless. 
There are few poems which would be more accept- 
able to the majority of lovers of poetry than Mrs. 
Norton's " Dream," from which we make the follow- 
ing extract ; — 

" Ob I Twilight I Spirit thnt does render birth 

To dim euchnnlmeiiU ; melting beaven with earth, 

Leanag oa craggj bills and rimniag streama 

A EoftdeBa like the atmoapbeie of dreamB ; 

Th^ hour to all is tcelcame ! Faint and sweet 

Thy light falls ronnd the peaBant's bomaward feet, 

Who, sloir returning from liis task of toil, 

SeOB the lotr sunset gild the cultured soil. 

And, thn' aucb radiance round him brightly glows, 

Marks the small spark big cottage window tbroWB. 

Still aa his heart farestala bis wearf pace, 

Fondly be dreams of each familiar face, 

Recalls Ibe treasures of bis narrow life, 

His rosy children and bia aunbumt wife, 

To whom hit conung ia tba chief event 


Of simple days in cbeerfiil labour spent. 
The rich man's chariot hath gone whirling past» 
And these poor cottagers have only cast 
One careless glance on all that show of pride. 
Then to their tasks tum'd quietly aside ; 
But him they wait for, him they welcome home, 
Fixed sentinels look forth to see him come ; 
The fagot sent for when the fire grew dim^ 
The frugal meal prepared, are all for him ; 
For him the watching of that sturdy boy. 
For him those smiles of tenderness and joy. 
For him — who plods his sauntering way along^ 
Whistling the fragment of some village song ! " 

The above is characteristic of a style in which 
Mrs. Norton excels, and it is a popular error to regard 
her solely as the poetess of impassioned personalities, 
great as she undoubtedly has shown herself in such 

The next extract is from Miss Barrett's "Sera- 
phim/* where Ador, a seraph, exhorts Zerah not to 
linger nor look through the closed gate of heaven, 
after the Voice had said " Go !'' 

" Thou — ^wherefore dost thou wait 1 
Oh ! gaze not backward, brother mine ; 
The deep love in thy mystic eyne 
Deepening inward, till is made 
A copy of the earth-love shade — 
Oh ! gaze not through the gate ! 
God fiUeth heaven with God's own solitude 

Till all its pavements glow ! 
His Godhead being no more subdued 


By itself, to gloriet low 

Which lenphs can sastain, 
What if thoo in gazing 00, 
Should behold but only one 
Attribate, the veil undone — 
And that the one to which we press 
Nearest, for its gentleness — 

Ay ! His lo7e ! 
How the deep ecstatic pain 
Thy being's strength would capture ! 
Without a language for the rapture. 
Without a music strong to come. 

And set th' adoring free ; 
For ever, e^er, wouldst thou be 
Amid the general chorus dumb, — 

God-stricken, in seraphic agony ! 

Or, brother, what if on thine eyes 
In vision bare should rise 
The life-fount wheuce his hand did gather 
With solitary force 
Our immortalities ! — 
Straightway how thine own would wither, 
Falter like a human breathy — 
And shrink into a point like death, 
By gazing on its source ! 

We cannot do better, we think, than attempt to 
display the different characteristics of the genius of 
the two highly-gifted women who form the subject of 
the present paper, by placing them in such harmo- 
nious juxtaposition as may be most advantageous to 
both, and convey the clearest synthetical impression 
to the reader. 

AND MRB. monTON. 139 

Tile prominent chamcteristics of these two 
poetesses may be designated as the struggles of 
woman towards happiness, and the struggles of a soul 
towards heaven. Tiie one is oppressed with a sense of 
injustice, and feels the need of human love ; the other 
is troubled with a sense of mortality, and aspires to 
identify herself with etherial existences. The one 
has a certain tinge of morbid de&poudency taking the 
tone of complaint and the amplification of private, 
griefs ; the other too often displays an energetic morbi- 
dity on the subjectof death, together with a certain pre- 
dilection for "terrors." The imagination of Mrs. Norton 
is chiefly occupied with domestic feelings and images, 
and breathes melodious plaints or indignations over 
the desecrations of her sex's loveliness; that of 
Miss Barrett often wanders amidst the supernatural 
darkness of Calvary sometimes with anguish and 
tears of blood, sometimes like one who echoes the 
Bongs of triumphal quires. Both possess not only 
great mental energies, but that description of strength 
which springs from a fine nature, and manifests 
itself in productions which evidently originated in 
genuine impulses of feeling. The subjects they both 
choose appear spontaneous, and not resulting from 
r Mudy or imitation, though cast into careful moulds 
F of art. Both are excellent artists : the one in dealing 
with Buhjects of domestic interest ; the other in 
designs from sacred subjects, poems of religious ten- 



dency, or of the supernatural world. Mrs. Norton 
is beautifully clear and intelligible in her narra- 
tive and course of thought and feeling; Mies Bar- 
rett has great inventiveness, but not an equal power 
in construction. The one is all womanhood ; the 
other all wings. The one writes from the dictates of a 
human heart in all the eloquence of beauty and indi- 
viduality ; the other like an inspired priestess — not 
without a roost truthful heart, but a heart that is 
devoted to religion, and whose individuality is cast 
upward in the divine afflatus, and dissolved and 

ried ofiF in the recipient breath of angelic minis- 

Some of Mrs. Norton's songs for music are very 
lovely, and other of her lyrics have the qualities of 
sweetness and pathos to a touchiiig and thrilling 
degree. One of the domestic poems in the " Dream 
and other poems," is a striking composition. The 
personal references in the miscellaneous poems are 
deep and true, and written with unaffected tender- 
ness. She has contributed roany prose tales full of 
colour and expression to several of the Annuals; 
but these, together with her musical talents and edi- 
torial labours, are much too popularly known and 
admired to render any further remarks that we could 
offer upon them at all requisite. 




" Great heart, and bright humours, my masters ; with a wit that never 
lingers, and a sorrow that sits with her head under one wing." 

Old CoifxDT. 

" Certes, sir, your painted eloquence. 
So gay, so fresh, and eke so talkative, 
It doth transcend the wit of Dame Prudfoce 
For to declare your thought or to descrive, 
So gloriously glad language ye contrive." 


" Could he dance on the head of him, and think with his heelSj then 
were he a blessed spirit." 

Old Irblavd. 

" Och, Shane Fadh — Shane Fadh, a eushla maehreet you're 
going to break up the ring— going to lave us, avoumeen, for ivver, and 
we to hear your light foot and sweet voice, morning, noon, and night, 
no more!" 





The author of the ^* O'Hara Tales'' stands pre-eminent 
among the delineators of Irish character, and quite 
distinct from the mere painters of Irish manners. 
He goes to the very heart and soul of the matter. 
He is neither the eulogist nor the vilifier, neither the 
patronising apologist, nor the caricaturist of his 
countrymen, but their true dramatic historian* Fiction 
such as his, is truer than any history, because it 
deals not only with facts and their causes, but with 
the springs of motive and action. It not only details 
circumstances^ but probes into and discovers the 
living elements on which circumstances operate. 
His Irishmen are not strange, unaccountable, crea- 
tures, but members of the great human family, with 
a temperament of their own, marking a peculiar 


id fais Irishwomen are in especial draWD 
; utmost truth and depth of feeling. He knows ' 
well the sourcep of those bitter waters which have 
converted the impulsive, generous, simple-minded, 
humorous, and irascible race with whom he has to 
deal, into lawless ruffians, or unprincipled knaves. | 
He loves to paint the national character in its genial 
Etatc, ardent in love, constant in friendship, with a 
ready tear for the mourner, and a ready laugh for the 
reveller, overflowing with gratitude for kindness, with 
open hand and heart, and unsuspicious as a child; 
and reversing the picture, to show thai same character 
goaded by oppression and contemptuous injustice, 
into a cruel mocking demon in human form, or into 
some reckless, libertine, idle, hopeless tattered rascal. 
The likeness cannot be disputed. The description 
carries internal evidence with it. Whoever has been 
in Ireland remembers illustrations of it, and begins 
to discover the how and the why of things which 
before puzzled him. Even those who have never 
been in Ireland, cannot have gone through their lives 
without observing the cheerfulness, humour, and 
gaiety of its natives, even under depressing circum- I 
stances, their natural politeness, the warmth of their I 
gratitude, their ready helpfulness, all evidences of a 
character to be moulded into excellent good form by 
_Iove and kindness. The reverse of the picture need 
ttt be dwelt on. It is the theme of all the world. 

inisn NOTBLISTS. 145 

Irish reprobates and Irish criminals are plentiful. 
Banim and some few others can teach why they 
are so. 

In the small compass of nine pages of Banim's 
admirable story called " Crohoore of the Bill-Hook," 
there is contained what may be called the natural 
history of " White-boy ism," and in those pages is 
comprised the philosophy of the whole matter, with 
its illustrations in human tears and drops of blood. 
In the vivid and exciting description of the White-boy 
outrage on the tithe-proclor, where the remorseless 
cruelty is rendered more revolting by its accompani- 
ment of the never-absent Irish humour that makes 
the torturer comfort his wretched victim before he 
cuts off his ears, with " Don't be the laste uiiasy in 
yoursef, a-gra ; you may be right sartin I'll do the 
thing nate and handy "^how finely does the author 
claim and obtain impartial justice for the perpetrators, 
at the tribunal of eternal truth, by the few words 
with which he prefaces his dreadful narrative. "The 
legal retribulion," says he, " visited on Damien and 
Ravaillac has found its careful registers: nor in this 
transcript of real scenes, shall the illegal violence 
done to an Irish tithe-proctor, want true and cou- 
rageous historians." Who that has ever had his aoul 
sickened by even a glance into the cold methodical 
detail of the exquisite tortures, that were each day, 
and day after day, applied to Ravaillac — the pincers, 



^e fire, the rack, the screw — while the " Do i 
i\y soul to despair!" shrieked out in va 
except to be recorded by the witnessing secretary— 
every agonized exclamation being carefully noted— 
who does not feel the force of those words? Despotic 
power had transformed these legal and highly- 
polished tormentors into devils. Ignorance, wrong, . 
and ruin had converted those illegal and outcast meii>l 
of impulse, into mocking savages. Individual cha'1 
racter and varied circumstance, acting and re-acting 
discordantly, these make up the mystery of human 
woe. Rise to a suiQcient elevalion, and the crimi- , 
nals might be seen to change places, or all fade intQ'l 
one mass of sufiering wanderers in the dark, coiwS 
cerning whom horror and hatred would turn intq 
deep pity; and tears and an effort to save take t 
place of retribution. 

We have been dwelling on the darker and strongef 1 
portraits in Banim'a works. As an illustration of thai 
humorous, we may take "Andy Houlahan," in thel 
same story of " Crohoore." There he stands, truQ I 
to the life. " Tall, square, slight, loose, bony," as ifj 
he had been put together by chance; " looking liksl 
a bold but imperfect sketch of a big fellow;" hUJ 
"skin fitting tight to his high cheek-bones;" his.l 
" expression of good-humour, foolishness, fidget, and 1 
subtlety;" his clothes looking as if " they had bee 
on with a pitchfork ;" his hat, " that part t 



IVery man's costume in its shape and adjustment 
most redolent of character/* going through all the 
varieties of adjustment, from being " pushed back 
to the last holding point of his skull" to being 
"dragged down into his eyes" according to the 
mood of the wearer; his long outside coat fallen 
from his shoulders, pinioning his arms and trailing in 
the dust or mud; the buttons at his knees, collar, 
and vest unfastened ; his stockings " festooning 
down to his brogues." Now, of this Andy Houlahan, 
it is just what is to be expected that be should 
perpetrate a succession of well-meant blunders, and 
30 he does. He is brave to recklessness in real 
danger, but as to witches, ghosts, and fairies, an 
arrant coward ; the most loving and faithful creature 
in the world, yet marring and counteracting every 
effort to serve the friend be loves best in the world, 
and nearly getting him hanged at last; then, (after 
his friend has been saved by other intervention,) 
pulling down the gallows, and stamping the coffin to 
shivers; and concluding by startling all the assem- 
bled magistrates in grave discussion, by his loud 
" whoop," when he sees his friend made all right and 
happy at last; for which finishing stroke he must 
give his own excuse, " It's a fashion we have in 
screechin ' that a way, when we 're glad, or sorry, or 
a thing o' the kind." 

fianim's conception of hia subject is equal to his 
n 2 


axunt Jlvd thb 

skill in the development of character. He has al- 
ways a definite aim and purpose, and always a plot. 
However elaborately he may finish his individual 
figures, they are always skilfully grouped, and all 
the groups together make an harmonious whole. 
His management of hia subject is equally fine. 
He invests it with an interest, humorous, terrible, 
or pathetic. We are sufficiently behind the scenes 
to feel with and for his cbaracters, and to attach due 
importance to his incidents, yet he does not disclose 
his " mystery " till the proper moment. " Crohoore," 
is an excellent illustration of this. We defy any 
one, unless he resort to the unjustifiable expe- 
dient of " looking at the end," to divine bow all 
will be explained to his heart's ease and thorough 
satisfaction at last. 

The thrilling interest attached to the history of 
the young priest in "The Nowlans," affords ano- 
ther instance of the power and passion with which 
this author works out his conceptions. The 
struggle between nature and conscience, unnatur- 
ally opposed as they are by the vow of celibacy, 
is here rendered more terrible in its effect by the 
youth and the ardent, impetuous character of the 
priest, which fight desperately against his high sense 
of duty and devotion to his faith. The lovely and 
refined character of Lettey, her sweet, tender, trust- 
ful, artless, self-sacrificing spirit, and ber excessive 
yet trembling love for him, obliterating from her 


consciousness all thouglU of her own superior station 
and fortune — all this enhances the deadly effort it coat 
them to part for ever, engages our deepest sympathies, 
and carries us along with them in their horror-stricken 
flight together, when that interview which they had 
meant to be their last on earth, has united their fates 
for ever. Then follow the cruel persecution of the 
world, the vain struggle with its anathema, and the 
6nal tragedy — the lone waste cabin in the lone field 
surrounded by the darkness of night, by the snow 
and winter wind; the door torn from its hinges and 
raised on four stones from off the wet floor ; upon it 
the corpse of the beautiful young woman clasping 
the dead infant to her breast; the rushlight stuck 
in a lump of yellow clay flickering by their side ; at 
their feet, the young man, kneeling — his face as 
pale as their's, " with unwinking distended eyes 
rivetted on the lowly bier." 

" The Nowlans " is, perhaps, the finest of Banim'a 
works; but they are all more or less stamped with 
genius. We could dwell on many more of them ; 
they are, however, all before the public and well 
known, and their peculiar characteristics are similar 
to those we have enumerated in this short sketch of 
" Crohoore" and " The Nowlans." 

Lover is a very forcibly effective, and truthful 
writer of Irish novels, and falls into the ranks after 
Banim, He has less passion, but more picturesque 


▼ineity. As a writer and composer of songs (not to 
mentioa the charming expression with which he 
sings them) Mr. Lover is perhaps still more popular, 
and his baUads have a certain singable beauty in 
them, and a happy occasional fancifulness. His 
novels, however, are the stuff whereof his fame is 
made, and they are highly vital, and of great value 
in the sense of commentary on the national character. 

Who ever read Rory O'More from beginning to 
end, without being seized with many a fit of uncon- 
trollable laughter, and also shedding some tears? — 
or who ever began to read it, and left off without 
reading to the end? Genuine pathos, and as genuine 
fun — a true love of nature, and simple true-hearted- 
ness — are all there ; and the dialogues are exquisite, 
and full of Irish humour.. 

The writings of William Carleton must not be 
omitted. If Banim may be characterized as the 
dramatic historian of his countrymen, Carleton may 
with equal truth be styled their faithful portrait- 
painter. He draws from the life. In his manly and 
unaffected introduction to "Traits and Stories of the 
Irish Peasantry," he has given his auto- biography, 
and explained how it is he can so accurately describe, 
because he was himself one of them : — A good reason 
for his knowledge; hut in himself is the power to 
use It with talent and effect. 

The Irish Tales of Mrs. S. C. Hall have character 
and life, tenderness and softness. She has written 


one or two novels ; but ihe performances she is better 
kuown by, are her miscellaneous light essays or tales, 
with which the periodical hleral.ure of the day is sown 
abundantly, and ihe characteristic sketches illustrative 
of her native Ireland, of which she published a 
volume not long ago, in conjunction with her hus- 
band. Her miscellaneous sketches, in general, are 
graceful, and womanly in the most amiable sense. 

Lever, well known in the popular literature of the 
day as " Harry Lorrequer," writes Irish novels too, 
and therefore is mentioned in this place. He has a 
large circle of readers, and many of them would say 
they prefer him to anybody else ; but if you tried to 
elicit from them one good reason, they would have no 
better answer to give than "Oh! he's a capital fellow!" 
What the French call material life, is the whole life 
he recognizes; and l/ial hfe is a jest, and a very loud 
one, in his philosophy. The sense of beauty and 
love he does not recognize at all, except in our 
modern condition of social animals. To read him is 
like sitting in the next room to an orgie of gentlemen 
topers, with their noisy gentility and ' hip ! hip ! 
hurras!' and the rattling din of plates and glasses. 
In his way, he is a very clever writer, nohody 
can deny; but he is contracted and conventional, 
and unrefined in his hne of conventionality. His 
best descriptions are of military life. He is most 
home in the mess-room. He has undoubted humour 


at ^^M 
our ^^^H 



and a quick talent of invention of comic scenes, which 
generally end in broad farce. He does not represent 
fairly even the social and jovial side of men of much 
refinement, or, if he does, he should not represent 
tbem as he does, on all Bides thus social and jovial. 

"A capital fellow" — is Lorrequer accounted by 
his readers, and that expression we take to be 
the most compact and complete estimate of him. 
The sort of reader for Harry Lorrequer, is one of 
those right jovial blades who can dismiss hie six 
dozen 'of oysters and a tankard of stout " after 
the play," and then adjourn with some other capital 
fellows to brandy-and-water and a Welsh rabbit, 
pleasantly relieved by poached eggs, and cigars, and 
a comic Eong; yet rise the next morning without a 
fraction of headache, without the knowledge of a 
stomach, and go to breakfast with a fox-hunter. 

The present period is certainly destined to display 
a singular variety, not only in the classes of literary 
production, but in the different modifications of each 
class. We think the most omniverous reader would 
be discomposed by the contrasts, if for his morning's 
reading he took alternately a. chapter from Banim, a 
chapter from Lady Morgan's "Wild Irish Girl," a 
chapter from Mrs. S. C. Hall's " Irish Tales," a high- 
brogue chapter from Lover's "Rory O'More," an 
after-dinner scene from Harry Lorrequer, and con- 
cluded by going to a wake or a wedding with Carleton. 




H 5 

** One midnight dark a Spirit electric came, 
And sliot an invisible arrow through the sky !" 

** A poet hidden in the light of thought." 

" The art of the poet is to separate from the fable whatever does not essentially 
belong to it ; whatever, in the daily necessities of real life, and the petty occupa- 
tions to which they give rise, interrupts the progress of important actions.'* 

A. W. SoHLSOBii. Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. 

** Break Phantasy, from thy cave of cloud, 
And spread thy purple wings I 
Now all thy figures are allowed, 
And various shapes of tilings." 

Ben JoNSOir. 



' Thb spirit of passiooate and ima^ative poetry is 
not dead among ua in the " ignorant present " — it is 
alive, and of great splendour, filling the eyes and 
eara of those who hy nature and study are fitted to 
receive such infliiencea. If dazzling lines, passages, 
and scenes, were asked in proof of this, what an 
array might instantly be selected from the compara- 
tively little known works of Mr. Browning, — Mr. 
Darley, — the author of the " Manuscripts of Erdely," 
—the author of " Featus," and several others still 
less known. While the struggle of this spirit to 
ascend visibly from the denser masses around — a 
I gtru^le understood by so few, interesting to fewer, 
[ believed in by fewer still — while this is going on, 
' diere ia also a struggle of a more practical kind In 

^F 166 


the field of letters, which is well patronized, greatly 
assisted, and expected to be successful — the spirit 
of reality, or of the artistical representation of 
reality. Such is apparently the creed, as it has 
hitherto been the practice, of Mr. Marston and many 
others. This is the principle which is thought to be 
the true representative of the tendency of the present 
age ; so much easier to understand than the ideal ; 
and so sure eventually of triumphant success. Be- 
lieving in this, Madame Vestris carpeted and uphol- 
stered the stage, and Mr. Macready carried the 
ruinous error to a still greater extent in his "gettinga 
up." But this principle is not the true representative 
of the age ; it is not understood much better than 
the ideal and imaginative, though all mechanical- 
minded men fully believe they can grasp it, — so 
palpable it seems; and it will not be successful. 
Hitherto it has always failed. It cannot even obtain 
a temporary success, — for all the spirit of railroads, 
and all the steam. Their success is no precedent 
for art. Art is in a false position among them. 
The spirit of the Fine Arts cannot be identical 
with the material forces and improvements of the 
age, which arc progressive — the former is not. Its 
greatness is self-centred, and revolves in its own 
proper orbit. 

The career of the author of " Paracelsus," extend- 
ing at present over not much more than half the 

4KD J. W. MABBTON. 157 

1 period of Mr. Tennyson, presents different features, 
some of which, appear more fortunate and some less. 
His reception was comparatively good ; we may say 
very good. Several of those periodicals, in which 
the critics seem disposed to regard poetry of a 
I auperior kind as a thing to be respected and studied, 
hailed the appearance of Mr. Robert Browning with 
all the honours which can reasonably be expected to 
be awarded to a new comer, who is moreover alive. 
In more than one quarter the young poet was fairly 
I crowned. The less intelligent class of critics spoke 
I of him with praise; guarding their expressions with 
I an eye to retreat, if necessary, at any future time, 
' made various extracts, and set him to grow. The 
rest did what is usual. Now, this reception was, all 
things considered, very good and promising ; the 
poet had no enemies banded together to hunt and 
hoot him down, and he had admirers among the best 
class of critics. Here was a fine table-land wliereon 
to build a reputation, and to. make visible to all men 
those new fabrics of loveliness and intellectual glory 
which were manifestly germinating in his brain. 
Mr. Browning's nest production was a tragedy, 
which, " marvellous to relate," he got acted imme- 
diately — an event quite unprecedented on the 
modern stage, except with those two or three 
dramatif! authors who have previously passed through 
the customary delays preceding representation. It 


succeeded, as the sajing is, but was not very 
attractive, and being printed " as acted," did not 
advance the poet's reputation. After this, Mr. 
Browning went to Italy, where he appears to have 
felt himself far too happy for the work that was 
before him ; his spiritual existence drinking in 
draughts too deep and potent of the divine air, and 
all the intenfie associations of the scenes in which 
he dwelt, and dreamed, and revelled, to suffer him 
to apply a steady strength, to master his own 
impulses, and to suhdue the throng of elementary 
materials, so as to compress them into one definite 
design, suited to the general understandings of 

After a silence of four years, the poet published 
" Sordello," which has proved, and will inevitably 
continue to prove, the richest puzzle to all lovers of 
poetry which was ever given to the world. Never 
was extraordinary wealth squandered in so extra* 
ordinary a manner by any prodigal son of Apollo. 
Its reception, if not aheady known to the reader, 
may be guessed without much dii&culty ; but the 
poem has certainly never been fiiirly estimated. 
The last publications of Mr. Browning are in a 
dramatic form and spirit ; they were issued at 
intervals, and we trust will coalinue — the series 
bearing the title of " Bells and Pomegranates." 
The public has treated them hitberlo, we believe, 


I nith less neglect than is usual with dramatic pro- 
ductions which have not been substantiated to the 
understanding by stage repreeentation, although it 
is still to be feared that the title of the seriea has 

. not induced any anticipatlve sympathy. 

Mr. Maraton's first work was the play of the 
" Patrician's Daughter," and was the subject of a 

I second " marvel," for this also obtained speedy 

I representation. To this play, as to Mr. Browning's 
' Strafford," Mr. Macready took a sudden fancy — 

[ fatal omen of invariable results ! Both of these 
works are examples of men of genius goiog astray, 
the one turning tragedy into a spasmodic skeleton, 
the other carrying the appointments of what is 
technically and degradingly termed " a coat-and- 
breeches comedy" into the tragic arena, and wound- 
ing Art with real-life weapons. The play has had 

I some temporary success ; but it will only be tempo- 
rary. Mr. Marston's next work was " Gerald," a 
poem in a dramatic form, illustrative of the old 
melancholy story of the struggles of Genius with 
the experiences of the actual world. The subject 
of Mr. Browning's first work, was in some respects 
similar ; but the struggles of " Paracelsus " are 
always treated poetically, while those of " Gerald " 
have a harsh matter-of-fact tone — for such is the 
principle of " realizing " in art. 

"Paracelsus" is evidently the work of a young 

160 ROBE 

poet of premature powers — of one who sought to 
project his imagioation beyond the bounds of his 
future, as well as present, experience, and whose 
iotellect had resolved to master all the resuhs thus 
obtained. We eaj the powers were premature, 
Bimply because such a design could only be conceived 
bj the most vigorous energies of a spirit just issuing 
forth with " blazing wiogs," too full of strength and 
too far of sight to believe in the ordinary laws and 
boundaries of mortality. It is the effort of a mind 
that wilfully forgets, and resolves to set aside its 
corporeal conditions. Even its possible failure is 
airily alluded to at the outset, and treated in the 
same way, not merely as no sort of reason fur hesi- 
tating to make the attempt to gain " forbidden 
knowledge," but as a result which is solely referable 
to the Cause of its own aspirations and impulses. 

■' What though 
It he lol If incieed the strong deaire 
Eclipse the mm in me 1 If apl«DcIour breali 
Upou Ihe outaet of my path alone. 
And duskest sbude succeed 1 Wbat birer seal 
Sball I require to mj authentic miaaion 
Than this fierce energy 1 This instinct striving 
Becauae its nature is to atriTB 1 Enticed 
By the socurit; of no broad courae — 
Where error U not, hut succeas ia sure. 
How know I eUe auch glorious fete my own, 
But in the restleaa ineaistibls force 
That trorka within me l la it for liamsa will 

I J. ■"■< 

To institate sucli impuUes 1 Still lens 

To dtaiegard tlieir promptings 1 Wbat should I 

Do. kept among; you all ; your Iotbs, jour cares, 

Your life— all to U mine ? Bs sure that God 

Ne'ei dooms to waste tbo straugtli he deigna impart. 

Ask tile gier-eagle wbj she stoops at ooce 

Into the cast and unexplored abyss ! 

What full-grown power informs her from the firal. 

Why she not marcels, atrenuously healing 

The silent boundleaa regiona of the sky i " 

PBraceliue, pp. 18, 19. 

It should be observed that reference is made 
exclusively to the poet's creation, not to the " Para- 
celsus" of history. Thi5 higher destinies of man, 
which are conceived by the " Paracclsias " we are 
contemplating, as attainable on earth, are thus 
sublimely intimated: — 

■■ The 

tcide Eaat 

where old Wisdom sprung ; 


bright So 

th, where 

she dwelt ; the p0]iulauB North 


re pass'd 


btaonme. 'Tis time 

New hopes should anima 

s the world— new iight 


Id dawn f 

om new r 

vealings to a race 


„.h'd down 

so long, forgotten so long ; so shall 


heaven re 

crv'd for 

us at last, receive 


reatures whom udw 

□ted splendours blind. 


ardent to 

Whose beams 

not seldom lit their pilgrimage; 


seldom gl 

rified the 

Paracelims, p. 20, 

A Promethean character pervades the poem 

throughout ; in the main design. 


varied aspirations and stru^les to attain know- 
ledge) and power, and happiness for mankind. 
But at the same time there is an intense craving 
after the forbidden secrets of creation, and eter- 
nity, and power, which place " Paracelsus" in 
the same class as " Faust," and in close affinity with 
all those works, the object of which is an attempt to 
penetrate the mysteries of existence — the infinity 
within us and without us. Need it be said, that the 
result is in all the same ? — and the baffled magic — 
the sublime occult — the impassioned poetry — all 
display the same ashes which were once wings. The 
form, the mode, the impetus and course of thought 
and emotion, admit, however, of certain varieties, 
and " Paracelsus" is an original work. Its aim is of 
the highest kind ; in full accord and harmony with 
the spirit of the age; and we admit that it has been ac- 
complished, in so far as such a design can well be : for 
since the object of all such abstractions as Paracelsus 
must necessarily fail, individually and practically, the 
true end obtained is that of refining and elevating 
others, by the contemplation of such efforts, and 
giving a sort of polarity to the vague impulses of 
mankind towards the lofty and the beneficent. It 
also endeavours to sound the depths of existence for 
hidden treasures of being. 

Living a long life — dreaming a lofty dream — 
working and suffering, Paracelsus now lies dead 



before ub ! Behold an epilome of the course he ran ! 
Paracelsus aspires. He has a glorious vision of the 
discovery of hiddco knowledge never as yet revealed 
to man. He believes that if he constantly seeks it, 
and works for it, he shall attain it ; and that, were it 
not possible, these "vast longings" would not be 
"sent to direct us." He "stands at first, where all 
aspire at last," and ptu-sues the ever- fleeting " secret 
of the world, " of man and our ultimate destiny. 
He searches at home and abroad ; but, chief of all, 
he searches within himself, believing that there is 
" an inmost centre in us all, where truth abides in 
fulness ;" and that to know, 

■' Rather conaisis in openiog out b ? 
Whence ibe imprisoned apleodoui 
Than in affecting entry for 
Supposed 10 be witbout." 


Filled with the divine portion of truth, which he 
mistakes for the whole, Paracelsus pursues his 
labours, " serene amidst the echoes, beams, and 
glooms," yet struggling onward with impassioned 
will, and suhdiiing his life "to the one purpose 
whereto be has ordained it," till at length he "at- 
tains" — But what ? — Imperfect knowledge I He 
finds that knowledge without love is intellect without 
heart, and a hitter, as it must ever be a cp'" 
disappointment. Paracelsus looks an 
renews his labours. 


'' This life of mine 
Must be lived out, md a grate tlioroughlj earned." 

He becomes a miraculous physician — profcBsor of 
medicine at Basil ; and his cures, his doctrines, and 
his fame are noised abroad in the world. Bat he is 
not satisfied : he feels the poverty of such reputation, 
when compared with what he would do for the human 
race. Again Paracelsus aspires. What his object 
now is in this part of the poem is not so clear; but 
knowledge, and love, and disappointed efforts, and 
fresh struggles and apprehensions, are all at work, 
while Paracelsus is at the same time full of anguish 
at the persecution which now hunts him from place 
to place, as an impostor and a quack. His feelings 
often display strong signs of over-tasked powers, and 
impel his mind along the borders of delirium and 
madness. He looks back upon the past, where " the 
heaving sea is black behind ;" and in the miseries 
and horrors of the present, he feels at times that 
" there is a hand groping amid the darkness to catch 

The closing scene is near. Paracelsus finally "at- 
tains." And what? — Purified feelings, and a clear 
knowledge of what may, and may not be. He is on 
the brink of the grave, and of eternity; a sublime 
fire is before his path, a constant music is in his ears, 
and a melting into " bliss for evermore." True to his 
ruling passion, he pauses a moment to speculate on 

hia momentous state — the awful threshold on which 
he stands— for a last chance of discovering " some 
further cause for this peculiar mood;" but it "haa 
somehow slipt away" from him. He stands in 
" his naked spirit so majestical," and full, once more, 
of ennobling hopes, looks forward to the time when 
man shall commence the infancy of a higher state of 
being. Then, with one last sigh over the "waste 
and wear" of faculties " displayed in vain, but born 
to prosper in some better sphere," the old heart- 
broken philosopher closes his eyes in death. His 
awe-stricken friend, standing mute for hours over the 
pale clay, at length slowly murmurs — 

" And this nas Paracelsus 1" 

The genius of Mr. Marston has hitherto displayed 
a misgiving originaUty — or a fancied origioalitj — 
self-confident at its first launch upon the tide, and 
midway calling for help from the past, and support- 
ing its sinking venture by all manner of old associa- 
tions. He took the bull by the horns, and let him 
go again ; the consequence has been that he has only 
^^ravated and exalted the power he intended to 
tame or transfer. He intended to show that the 
bull was a real thing, and the provocation transforms 
it to a Jupiter. The principle on which the "Patri- 
cian's Daughter" was written, (a kind of following in 
the track of the " Lady of Lyons,"} was to prove 
that reality and the present time constituted the best 


material and medium for modem poetry, especially 
dramatic poetry. Now this very play contains as 
many antiquated words and phrases as any modern 
drama written in direct imitation of the Elizabethan 
dramatiets. Aa an acting tragedy it has failed to 
lake any satisfactory hold upon the stage — for ladies 
with fashionable parasols, and gentlemen in grena- 
diers' caps, are an outrage to tragic art, which ap- 
peals to the hearts and businesses of men through 
universal sympathies; and inasmiich as it cannot be 
aided by matter-of-fact costumes, so it may be injured 
by ugliness in that respect, more particularly when it 
constantly calls back (instead of stimulating) the 
imagination, and reminds it that all this pretended 
reaUty is not real. An extract from De Quincy's 
" Essay on Imitation in the Fine Arts," will make 
this question more clear: — 

"TLb first error of the artist, — conaiBts in stepping bejond his art 
to seek in Ibe resonrcea of snotber, bd increaBe of imitalive retent- 
blaaee- Tbe second erroT of tbe artist, — conaista in seeking trutb 
(sborl of tbe bmilB of every art) bj n ajatem of servile ropy, wbicb 
doprives the imitation or tbe imaeo, of thai fictitioui part ichieh 
eonstUalei at oiice Us eseenne and ill character. 

" In every art tbere must be with respect to trutb some fiction, and 
with respect to resemblance somelhiDg incomplela." 

In the delineation of his chief character, more- 
over, Mr. Mars ton commits the very dangerous 
error of saying prodigious things of his hero's 



abilities, but not showing his greatness by his actions. 
Among other extravagancies he calls him " the 
apostle of his age," and ehows no shadow of justifica- 
tion for the title. 

We have here to mention, chiefly for the sake of 
reprehension, the numerous reality tragedies of the 
author of " The Shepherd's Well." Some are 
printed with his name, some not; but they are aU 
of one family. This gentleman has attempted to 
introduce real-hfo, common-place colloquial dia- 
It^ue into tragedy, — not as prose tragedy, but in the 
form of verse. Whatever ability he may display in 
the conception of subjects, we certainly think that 
his method of execution defeats the doai^n, Tho 
perfectly domestic drama should be prcHeiitcd In ft 
perfectly domestic form. Rapidity of production Ii | 
also apt to degenerate into rccklesH inijMiliKt. \ 
tragedy at three sittings appears to ho Mr. I'MWoII'a ] 
rate of work. Five mortal acts as a few lioiir*' nniiii 
menti But they are Twt ads. They nr« JiiturliiddM lo 
display a catastrophe. These |ir»duoiionii liavo ihu 
merit of one idea; and sometliiicit it very linn mill . 
striking one it would prove, if pro|ieirly witrlmil iiut| ^ 
hut having reserved this idea for ihn liiKt Mtnno of hil j 
last act, the author seiTmn lo think llinl niiy in 
of introductory or irrclnvRnt iiiiitlr-r, nmy Im i 
into four parts — and t/ifn comitit Ael iho Ml 

ud the ( 

: stinging 


'I'liiil h(i 



in him of a good kind, if fairly worked upon, and 
with any justice done to its own nature, is evident, 
though it may be doubted from these specimens 
whether he will ever be a dramatist. But, in the 
first place, and in any case, we object to the principle 
oi realizing in dramatic composition, however admir- 
ably the intention were executed. " The lilind Wife," 
the "Wife's Revenge;" "Marguerite;" "Marion," 
Sic. &c. are all instances of the error, carried to its 
extreme, and with a fairness that brings the question 
at once to an issue. It ought to be added that the 
" Shepherd's Welt" is the best of Mr. Powell's pro- 
ductions, and not only has fine elements of feel- 
ing and purpose in its conception, but is executed 
in a style of more care and poetical refinement than 
any of the rest of his large " young family." It ia a 
great pity that six months' labour was not bestowed 
upon so finely conceived a subject. 

That a composition intended for the stage, which 
was the second production of Mr. Browning, should 
be very different from an epic or psychological poem, 
will excite no surprise ; but that it should contain so 
few incidental touches of that peculiar genius which 
he had previously displayed, is a curious circum- 
stance to remark. Paracelsus was an ebullition of 
the poet's powers. The tragedy of " Strafford " is a 
remarkable instance of the suppression of them. It 
was a strange mistake, with regard to the tragic 


principle, Tvhich needs the highest consummation of 
poetry and passion, so that each shall be either or 
both ; whereas " Strafford " was a piece of passionate 
action with the bones of poetry. It was a maimed 
thing, all over patches and dashea, with the light 
showing through its ribs, and the wind whistling 
through its arms and legs ; while in its head and 
echoing in its heart, was sung its passion for a king. 
It was printed as "acted," What it might have been 
originally is impossible to say, but we have some dif- 
ficulty in conceiving how it could have been put 
together with so many disjointed pieces in the first 
instance. The number of dashes and gaps of omis- 
sion made its pages often resemble a Canadian field 
in winter, after a considerable thoroughfare of snow- 
shoes. It appeared, however, to please Mr, Mac- 
ready, and it was played by him appropriately during 
several nights. 

But it is ever the "trick of genius" to do some- 
thing which we do not expect ; and turning to the 
series, issued under the pretty and most unsatisfactory 
title of " Bella and Pomegrtinates," we discover Mr. 
Browning to possess the finest dramatic genius. 
"King Victor and King Charles" is a complete tra- 
gedy. It appears in (he form of two main divisions, 
each of which is also divided into two parts, yet pre- 
senting one entire and perfectly united drama. It is 
properly a tragedy in four acts, with the intervl 



about a twelvemoitth between the second and third. 
The characters are drawn with a fine and masterly 
hand, and the Bcones in which they appear are full of 
nice shades and gradations, and subtle casuistries of 
the passions, and are not only dramatic in an intel- 
lectual sense, but would be so to the feeling and to 
the eye, if duly represented. It is another proof, 
among the many already existing, that the unacted 
drama is incomparably superior to the melodramatic 
plays and farces adopted by managers. 

The action in " King Victor and King Charles " 
is so finely intervolved, though so very clear to the 
understanding, and its scenes are so thoroughly 
dependent upon each other, even for ordinary effect, 
that extracts can do no justice to its artistic structure. 

The same author's tragedy of the " Return of the 
Druses" is, in conception, still finer. The main 
requisites for a successful acting tragedy are char- 
acter and passionate action — and these the "Druses" 
possesses in the highest degree ; the next requisite is 
the perspicuous distribution of the action — and here 
this tragedy is deficient, but in a way that might 
easily be remedied, and with far less trouble than is 
always taken with the works of Mr. Knowles, or Sir 
E. L, Eulwer, or with any of the "great discoveries" 
and failures of Mr, Jlacready. The character of 
Djabal is a masterpiece, and of the highest order of 
tlraraatic portraiture. It is at once complicated and 




the motives intervolved and conflicting, yet 
table to feeling as to sight;" and alL Ms actions, 
their resultSj and his own end, are perfectly in har- 
mony with these premises. Anything in him that 
puzzles us, is only in the progress of the drama; for i 
eventually he stands out in the finest relief, as though I 
upon " the mountain," to which his dying steps lead I 
on bis emancipated people. 

Of a similar kind in design and structure to " The | 
Patrician's Daughter," is the poem of "Gerald," by 
the same author. It is another form of the idea of a i 
man of genius struggling with the world of the pre- 
sent time. The scenes are laid in such places as 
Hyde Park, the High Road, at Bayswater, &c,, and 
the language having a strong smack of the olden i 
time. The poem may be designated as a narrative 
dialogue and reverie, in which a aeries of emotions 
and thoughts, and a few events, are brought before 
us. They are all very like private experiences 
■ poetized, philosophized, and moralized upon. It 
Kaiay also be doubted whether the author's Acui- 
ties have attained their maturity, judging by the 
love be has for displaying bis good things in 
Italics, evidently showing that he considers the ideas 
as very new, which they frequently are not, though i 
perhaps expressed in a novel form. But the gravest 
I feult is of the same kind as that in his previous ] 
I 2 


work, viz., the author gives us no proof that his hero 
is a man of genius, Gerald says: — 

■■ In my tnliiude. 
While hending o'er the page ofharda, la feel 
Their greatnoas fill my aoul, and albeil then 
The loflj meaning 1 could scarce (ranalile. 
To qiiiTet with an awful, vague delight, 
And find aij heart respond, although no aenae 
Outran my ihongbt ! What, shall do harvest burst 
Fromaeed like this]" 

Gerald, p. II. 

We answer " very likely not any." K any, then 
most likely a reproduction of the thoughts of others, 
the seeds of which have inspired him. All that he 
says in proof of an impulse and capacity, is in itself 
only poetical emotion, which should not be mistaken 
(as it always is in youth) for poetical genius. Gerald 
leaves his home feeling a strong impulse to do some- 
thing great in the world. Here at once we see the 
old sad error — a vague aspiration or ambition mis- 
taken for an object and a power, A man of genius 
rushes out of his solitude, or takes some extreme 
step, because he is possessed with a ruling passion, — 
a predominating idea, — a conviction that he can 
accomplish a particular thing, and so relieve his 
breast of the ever-smouldering image — his imagina- 
tion of the ever-haunting thought. He does not 
rush forth with expanded arms to grasp at whatever 
presents itself to his inflamed desires, but to grasp 

AKD 3. W. MARSTON, 173 

' his soul's idol. In like manner — to come down to 

details — a man of genius never snatches a pen, and sits 

down to write whatever comes uppermost; (or if he 

do so, now and then, it is because he is in a morbid 

I Btate, and will most likely burn what he has written ;) 

' but to write down a sudden revelation of a definite 

kind. We think, that towards the close of his work 

Mr. Marston discovered this; in fact, we see signs 

that he did ; but it was too late, and ait he could do 

t was to make his hero accuse himself of a selSsh 

* ambition as an excuse for his want of success. 

So much for these heroes ; but that the author of 
both these works is a man of genius, and one of the 
moving spirits of the time, no doubt can exist, Mr. 
Marstoii's writings are full of thoughtful beauty, of 
religious aspiration, and affectionate tenderness. He 
has also acquired considerable reputation as a Lec- 
turer, and is in other respects likelj to have a pros- 
perous career before him — a career which at present 
he has not commenced in that fidlness of strength 
which we anticipate he will shortly develope. 

Having spoken of the realizing attempts of Mr. 
Powell with regard to the drama, it will be only 
justice merely to remark, that this ia not the case 
with his other poetical productions. He possesses 
much talent in lyrical composition, and his poems of 
the affections have great beauty. Many of the other 
pieces are of a very restless and unequal description. 



They breathe too much of death, and a morbid harpin 
upon religious forms and dogmas. If we were to select 
those which we like best, they would be from among 
his smaller poems of a few stanzas each ; and we 
could pick out many sonnets, which are excellei 
in thought, imagery, and harmonious versificatioi 
His longer poems want design and order — to e 
nothing of some care and consistency. For instance, 
in his poem entitled " A Dream of Ai-cadi," he 
I thinks proper to see a splendid cathedral, to hear a 
fine organ and anthems, and to delight his senses 
with the fumes of incense, amidst crowds of devotees. 
High-mass in Arcadia I For the rest, however, every 
one moat feel the presence of the spirit of poetry, 
and of religious sensibility ; nor can any confusion 
of time, place, form, and of purpose (or the want of 
purpose), prevent that sympathy which follows even 
the wildest touch upon the chords of universal 

To that somewhat extensive class of readers who 
are of opinion that poetry, so far from being a thing 
to study, should ho so plain, that " all who run may 
read," and who take up the works of Mr. Browning 
with that view, we should premise that they might 
just as well run another way. In " Paracelsus " 
the difficulties were in the quantity and quality of 
thought; in " Sordello" there is the additional 
difficulty of an impracticable style. In proportion 



i we I 


' say^^ 


^^^B tioi 



to the depth or Dovelty of a thought, the poet has 
chosen to render the vehicle difficult in which 
it is conveyed — aometiraea by its erudite elabora- 
tion of parenthesis within parentheBis, and ques- 
tion upon query — sometimes by its levity, jaunting 
indiiFcrence, and apparent contempt of everything 
— sometimes it has an interminable period, or 
one the right end of which you cannot find; a 
knotted serpent, which either has no discoverable 
tail, or has several, the ends of which are in the 
mouths of other serpents, or else flanking in the air 
— sometimes it has a series of the shortest possible 
periods, viz. of one word, or of two or three words. 
And amidst all this there is at frequent intervals a 
dark hailstone shower of proper names — names of 
men and women, and places, and idealities, with which 
only one general reader in about twenty thousand 
can be expected to be familiar, and with the whole 
of which the style of the poet seems courteously to 
assume that all his readers are upon the most fami- 
liar terms possible. Under these cireumstanees it 
can be no wonder that such of the miscellaneous 
public as lake up a poem by way of a little relaxation 
shrunk back in hopeless dismay ; nor that the more 
numerous class of daily and weekly critics, whose 
judgments are, from the very nature of their posi- 
tion, compelled in most cases to be as hasty as their 
inds, irhich "write against time," should have 


been glad to dismiss " Sordello " in an angry pi 

L graph. In a few instances the critics appeared 

I liave read a portion of it ; in the great majority of 

I instances it was not read at all, which fact was 

evident in the notice, and in several instances was 

boldly declared by the irate critic as a task beyond 

his sublunary powers. And this no doubt was true. 

" Who will, may bear Sordello's slorj (old : 
HU glory!" 

The author is bewitched at the very outset with an 
inability to "get on with his story;" and he never 
recovers this bad beginning. The historical ground- 
plan of the work is laid down after a most bewildering 
fashion: — 

So GuelTs rebuilt 
Their hoDBes; not a drop of blood was spilt 
When Ciao Boccliimpaae chanced to meet 
Buccio Virtil ; God's wafer, and tho street 
I Ibdutow! TulIiSaDti, tiiink, a-sRarm 

With GhibBllios, and jet he look no Lattn. 
ThiB could not lost. Off SaliDguerta went 
To Padna, Fodesla," &e. 

Sordello, p. 7. 

Adding to the vague or conflicting historical ac- 
counts whatever fictions were agreeable to his fancy, 
the poet has thus successfully succeeded in be- 
wildering himself and his readers, amidst the 
elaborate webs of all manner of real and ideal events 
and biographies. Whether to the purpose of his i 

I psychologically digressive narrative, or merely as an 
f associatioD su^ested (to himself) by the last remark 
he has made, he never lets you off. Speabiog of 
[ Adelaide, and the Kaiser's gold, and Monk Hilary, 
[ who IB on his knees — 

" Now, awom to kneel and pray till God sball please 

Exact a puniahment for maay things 

You kaoir and aorae you never jbieto ; u/Aich brbigs 

To memory, Azzo's aiater Beatris 

And Ricbard'a GJglia are m; Alberio'a 

And Eceliu'8 beirotbed ; the Count himself 

Must getmj Falma : Ghibellin and Gnelf 

Mean to embTace each other. So began 

Taurello on the TuBcua'a doalb, away 

WitL Fciedrich SROin to sail from Naples' bay 

Next moDth for Sjria.'' 

Sorde«o,p. 81. 

Intending to say several things in token of admi- 
ration, amidst all the off-hand severities of contem- 
poraries that have been vented upon " Sordello," 
it ncvDrtheless seemed right to display some of 
the heaviest faults of the poem at the outset. Hav- 
ing done this unsparingly, the far more pleasant, 
even though the far more arduous task remains. 
The following are offered as opinions and impres- 
I siona of the work, regarding it as a whole : — 

The poem of " Sordello" is an attempt to carry 
\ out the impossible design in which the author's 
I previous hero, "Paracelsus," had so admirably 
I 5 


failed. It is as though the poet, haviDg created a 
giant, whose inevitabie fall in the attempt to scale 
the heavens had been so fully explained, was re- 
solved hiiDself to follow in the same track with nil the 
experience and power thus derived ; and, moreover, 
with the consciousness of being the real and vital 
essence which bad called that idealism into exist- 
ence, and less likely, therefore, to "go off" into fine 
air, not being amenable to the same laws, Sotdello 
takes up the asbestos lamp from the inmost chamber 
of the tomb of Paracelsus, and issues forth with it 
into the world, being already far on the way towards 
the outlet which leads to other worlds, or states of 
being, and perhaps to the borders of infinity. Para- 
celsus, while dying, came to the conviction that men 
were already beginning " to pass their nature's 
bounds;" that a fine instinct guided them beyond 
the power of mere knowledge or experience, and 
that they were — 

" all nmbitioua, upwards leading, 

Like pIonlB in mines, vfaich itaier siw the sun, 
IJpi dtenm of Lim and guess where bo may be. 
And do llieir best to climb and get to bim." 

He had, moreover, a sentient perception, "be- 
yond the comprehension of our narrow thought, 
but somehow felt and known in every shift and 
change of the spirit within — of what God is, of what 
we arc, and what life is." Now, wc should reply to 


^^^^ their imagi 


'aracebos, and to all who, lilie him, hare sufi^red 
their imaginative sensibilities to reaaon them into 
such notions, that they deceive themselves, although 
the trntb is in them. Full, however, of this sublime 
deception, Sordello tunes his harp, and works 
through all the complicated chords and mazes of 
harmony with indefatigable zeal, from tbe first note 
to the end. In the last book of " Sordello" we find 
faim almost using the same expressions as in the 
last book of " Paracelsus." Here we learn that his 

" Lighted !iia old life's every shift aai cbaage, 
Effort K'ilb couDter-effoit ; nor tfai! range 
Of eacU looked wrong except wberein itobscked 
Some other — wliEcb of these could he auapect 
Prying into ibetn hy the sudiien blaze 1 
The resl wnj aeemed made up of all Iha waja— 
Slood after mood of the one mind ia him ; 
Tokeoa of tbe existence, bright or dim, 
Of a ttaiiscendent Bll-embracing sense 
Demanding only outward inflnence, 
A gout, in Palmu'a pbrsse, above his soul, 
Power to uplift hii power," &c. 

Sordello. pp. ei7, SIB. 

Exactly bo ; he only wants that very thing which 
has been denied to mortality since tbe beginning of 
things. Despairing of this, and doubting whether 
any external power in nature be adequate to forward 
his desire, Sordello finally moots tbe question of 
whether he may be ordained a prouder fate — " a law 


to bia own sphere ?" Sordello dies, and the whole 1 
amount of his transcendental discoveries may be^ 
summed up in the poet's question — 
■• Vlhal has Sonlello foiuidl" 
To which no reply is given. 
Such is the most simpHfied account the present! 
student can offer of the main object of the poem of « 
"Sordello," carved out from the confused "story," 
and broken, mazy, dancing sort of narrative no-out- ' 
line, which has occasioned so much trouble, if not 
despair, to his most patient and pains-taking admirers. 
Some have thought that the general purport of tiie , 
poem was to show that mere material things andJ 
matters of fact were a mistaken object of life, only 1 
leading to disappointment and sorrow; and that in 
the ideal world alone, true contentment, satisfaction, 
and happiness were to be found ; others have con- 
tended, on the contrary, that it is intended to display i 
the impossibility of attaining to a knowledge of the * 
essences of things, that a life passed amidst idealisms 
is one of inutility and soitow, and that the true ob- 
ject of man should be to discover and attain the best 
realities. But a third view su^ests itself. It iiiJ 
probable that Sordello is not devoted to either of the*^ 
above purposes exclusively, but comprising both, dis- 
plays the hopes and the despairs, the value and the 
inutility of both, when followed with the devotion of 
p the whole being. The selection is leil to the reader's 


individual nature, in such proportions as may accord 
with that nature. 

As to the poetry of " Sordello," apart from all 
these disquisitions, we think it abounds with beauties. 
We should oflFer as one instance (it cannot be ex- 
tracted on account of its Icugtb) the matchless 
description of the poetical mind of the noblest 
order, as typified in Sordello, from the bottom of 
p^e 20 to the top of page 25. Of the childhood 
of Sordello, a beautiful description is given, — at 
pp. 26—28. 

The complex working of the youthful mind of the 
poet is illustrated in a very happy manner : 

"Thus Ihrall roncbed ihrttll; 
looQing every interral 

He I 

Aa the ddventuroua spider, making light 

Of ilialance, elioula her Ibraada trom depth to height, 

From barbican to battlemeat ; bo flung 

Fanta^iea forth and in their centre swung 

Our arcbitcict." 

Sordello, p, -J9. 

At page 69, there are several passages highly illus- 
trative of some of our previous remarks on the philo- 
sophy of " Sordello ;" but the simple matter- of- fact 
beauty of the following must be apparent to the 
I reader : 

" In Mantua-territorj half ia slough. 
Half pine-tree forest; maples, flcarlel-oaks 
Breed o'er the riverbeds; erenMiocio cbokea 


Wilb sind tbe Eummer through ; but 'tis monaa 
In winter ap to MuntuB wall*.'' 

Sordella, p, 17. 

The whole of page 39, might be quoted for its 
pastoral loveliness. 

Containing, as it does, so many pass^es of the 
finest poetry, no manner of doubt can exist but that 
" Sordello " has been hitherto treated with great in- 
justice. It has been condemned in terms that would 
lead any one to suppose there was nothing intelli- 
gible throughout the whole poem. Wo have shown 
its defects in detail, and we have also shown that it 
has some of the highest beauties. The style, the 
manner, the broken measure, the recondite form; 
these have constituted still greater difficulties than 
even the recondite matter of which it treats — though 
the latter only were qnite enough to " settle " or 
" unsettle " an ordinary reader. 

But how speak of the poem synthetically — how re- 
view it as a whole ? In what terms shall we en- 
deavour to express the sum of our impressions of 
thousands of verses poured forth, as Sordello says, 
"by a mad impulse nothing justified, short of 
Apollo's presence?" In sobriety of language it is 
not to be done, save most unfittingly. In what fine 
rapture, then, shall we seek to lose our mere critical 
fiiculties, and resign ourselves to the swift and way- 
ward current of the verse ; now basking in ils bril- 




icy, DOW merged in its profound shadows, at one 
due whirled in a vortex, and the nest moment cost 
upon some vast shelving strand, glistening all over 
with flints, and diamonds, and hroken shells, where 
atrange amphibions creatures crawl, and stare, or 
teink, while the song of Sordello passes over our 
prostrate head, and we have to scramble up and 
Btagger after the immortal quire, vainly catching at 
the torn and cast-off segments of their dickering 
skirts ? We hurry on in fond yet vain pursuit, when 
suddenly a Guelf and Ghibellin appear before u8, 
each with an enormoua urn of antique mould, which 
they invert above our tingling cranium, and instantly 
we are half extinguished and quite overwhelmed by 
a dark shower of notes and memoranda from Tira- 
boschi, Nostradamus, the Latin treatise of Dante, 
the Chronicle of Rolandin, the Comments on the 
wxth Canto of the Purgatorio, by Benvenuto d'Imola, 
and all the most recondite hints from the most 
learned and minute biographical Icxict^raphers of 
the old Italian periods. 

The poem of " Sordello " is a beautiful globe, 
which, rolling on its way to its fit place among the 
sister spheres, met with some accident which gave it 
socb a jar that a multitude of things half slipt into 
each other's places. It is a modern hieroglyphic, 
■nd should be carved on atone for the use of schools 
mid colleges. Professors of poetry should decypher 


and comment upon a. few lines every morning before 
breakfast, and young studeuts should be ground upon 
it. It is a fine menial exercise, whatever may be said 
or thought to the contrary. Here and there may be 
found passages equal to the finest things that were ever 
written, and are no t more difficult to the understanding 
than those same finest things. It Is also full of passages 
apparently constructed with a view to make the ge- 
neral reader rage and foam, if ever a general reader 
should push forth his adventurous boat out of sight of 
the shore of the first page — and out of sight it will 
surely appear to him before he has doubled the storm- 
rejoicing cape of page four. To some it will appear 
to be a worlt addressed to the perception of a seventh 
sense, or of a class of faculties which we do not at 
present know that we possess — if we really do possess. 
To others it wil! seem to be a work written in the 
moon by the only sane individual of that sphere, 
viz., the man of that ilk ; or a work written by a 
poet somewhere in the earth by the light of a remote 
sun whose rays are unrevealed to other eyes. To 
some the most vexatious part of it will be the count- 
less multitude of little abrupt snatches of questions, 
snaps of answers, and inscrutable exclamations, 
chirping around from every branch of a wilderness 
or a jungle of glimmering mysteries. To others the 
continual consciousness of the reader's presence will 
most annoy, because it destroys the ideal life, and 



rSeminds him of something far less ^reeable — bim- 
Bel^ and bis distracting problem I The flowiog 
familiar style sometimes reminds us of Shelley's 
" Julian and Maddalo " with a touch of Keat's 
" Endymion," broken up into numerous pit-falla, 
whether mines of thought or quirks of fancy ; but 
there are also other occasions when it becomes spiral, 
and of sustained inspiration, not unlike certain parts 
of the " Prometheus Unbound " put into rhyme ; 
yet is it no imitation of any other poet. Certain 
portions also remind us of the suggestive, voluble, 
disconnected, philosophical jargon of Shakspeare's 
fools, and with all the meaning which they often have 
for those who can find it. The poem is thick-sown 
throughout with suggestions and glances of history 
and biography, of dark plots, tapestried chambers, eyes 
behind the arras, clapping doors, dreadful galleries, 
and deeds in the dark, over which there suddenly 
bursts a light from on high, and looking up you find 
a starry shower, as from some remote rocket, des- 
cending in silent brilliancy upon the dazzled pa{;e. 
Each book is full of gems set in puzzles. It is like 
what the most romantic admirers of Goethe insist 
upon "making out" that he intended in bia simplest 
fables. It is the poetical portion of three epics, 
shaken together in a sack and emptied over the hand 
of the intoxicated reader. It is a perfect storehouse 
of Italian scenery and exotic fruits, plants, and 



flowers ; bo much eo, that by the force of contraet it 
brings to mind the half-dozen flowers and pastoral 
common-places in collections of " Beauties of Eng- 
lish Poets," till the recollection of the sing-song repe- 
titions makes one almost shout with laughter. It is 
pure Italian in all its materials. There is not one 
drop of British ink ia the whole composition. Nay, 
there is no ink in it, for it is all written in Tuscan 
grape juice, embrowned by the sun. It abounds in 
things addressed to a second sight, and we are often 
required to see douf/le in order to apprehend its mean- 
ing. The poet may be considered the Columbus of 
an impossible discovery. It is a promised land, 
spotted all over with disappointments, and yet most 
truly a land of promise, if ever so rich and rare a 
chaos can be developed into form and order by re- 
vision, and its southern fulness of tumultuous heart 
and scattered vineyards be ever reduced to given pro- 
portion, and wrought into a shape that will fit the 
average mental vision and harmonize with tlic more 
equable pulsations of mankind. 


** Pitch thy project high I 

Sink not in spirit. Who aimeth at the sky 
Shoots higher much than if he meant a tree. 
Let thy mind still be bent, still plotting where, 
And when, and how, the business may be done.'' 

Gbobob Hbbbbbt. 

B " whom all the Graces taught to please. 

Mixed mirth with morals, eloquence with ease. 
His genius social, as his Judgment clear ; 
When frolic, prudent ; smiling when severe. 
Secure each temper and each taste to hit. 
His was the curious happiness of wit." 


It should be remembered to the honour of Sir E. L. 
Bulwer, that although born to an independence and 
to the prospect of a fortune, and inheriting by acci- 
dent of birth an advantEigeous position in society, he 
has yet cultivated his talent with the most unremit- 
ting assiduity, equal to that of any "poore scholar," 
and has not suffered his " natural gifts" to be smoth- 
ered by indolence or the pleasures of the world. 
He is one of the most prolific authors of our time ; 
and his various accomplishments, habits of research, 
and extraordinary industry, no less than his genius, 
well entitle him to the rank lie holds as one of the 
most successful, in that branch of literature in which 
he eminently excels. We must not he dazzled by 
his versatility; we entertain no doubts about his real 
excellence, and shall endeavour to fix his true and 
definite position, 


Sir Edward Lytton Bultver is the youngest sod of 
General Bulwev, of Heydon Hall, in the county of 
Norfolk, and of Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of 
Henry Warburton Lytton, Esq., of Knehworth Park, 
Herts, to the possession of which estate he has just suc- 
ceeded ; and is connected on both sides of the house, 
with many noble and ancient families. He sat in 
parliament at an early age for the borough of St. Ives, 
and subsequently for the city of Lincoln. His par- 
liamentary career was highly creditable, and in one 
respect, in especial, has left an honourable testimo- 
nial to his exertions ; we aUude to the bill for the 
protection of dramatic copyright, which he brought 
in and carried. He distinguished himself at the same 
time as an able pohtical writer. As a speaker, he 
had won the respect of the House, though his voice is 
weak, his manner somewhat hesitating, and his style 
more florid than accords with the taste of that as- 
sembly. His train of argument surmounted these 
disadvantages, and, what was more difficult still, 
induced honourable members to overlook a. certain 
appearance of fastidious nicety in dress, which by no 
means accords with their notions in general. He 
was made a baronet ; the date and occasion of which 
event we forget. His political labours interfered not 
in the least with his literary career, to the progress 
of which we now turn. 

The development of his literary taste is ascribed to 



the influence of his mother, to whose charge he was 
early consigned by his father's death. The " Percy's 
Reliques" was a favourite book of his childhood, and 
he wrote some ballads in imitation, when only five or 
six years old. He was never sent to any public 
school, but graduated at Cambridge. He, however, 
found for himself a kind of education, — which was 
probably of more importance to the development 
of genius than any he received in the University, — by 
wandering over the greater part of England and 
Scotland on foot during the long vacation, and after- 
wards making a similar tour of France on horseback. 
He began to publish when only two or three and 
twenty, at first in verse ; next anonymously a novel 
now forgotten, entitled " Falkland." It hence ap- 
pears that his early attempts were failures. His 
first successful work was "Pelham," and this esta- 
blished his reputation as a clever novelist. It was 
rapidly followed by "The Disowned," by "Deve- 
reux;" and then by "Paul Clifford," which stamped 
him as a man of genius. "Eugene Aram" well sus- 
tained the high reputation thus gained. 

There was a considerable interval between these 
two fine works last named, and the other novels and 
romances of their author, in which he undertook the 
editorship of the "New Monthly Magazine." His 
own papers, of which he wrote many, were various 
in subject; sometimes political, sometimes literary 

192 SItt EDWARD 

criticism. A series entilled "The Conversations of 
an Ambitious Student" was in general devoted to 
abstract speculation. Tlie best of these weie after- 
wards re-published under the title of "the Student," 
The germ of many of the thoughts embodied and 
developed in these papers belongs to Hazlilt; but 
the germ has power and life sufBcient to bear the 
branching stems and foliage with which it was ela- 
borated by Bulwer, and in a manner that was often 
worthy of it. If the saying attributed to Sir Lytton 
Bulwer concerning his editorship is true, it belongs 
to that "dandiacal" portion of him, which disagree- 
ably interferes with one's confidence in his sincerity; 
for if he said he became an Editor "to show that a 
gentleman might occupy such a position," it must 
simply be set down to the same Beau-Biumme! idio- 
ayncracy which makes him seriously cartful of the 
cut of his coat, and the fashion of his waistcoat. 
But it was only a "flourish of the queue," whoever 
said it. The motive was more worthy; and if a proof 
were wanting, the papers of the " Student," might 
be referred to, in which the aim is always high and 
pure. " England and the English," was more the 
work of the man of the world, and the member of 
Parliament, superadded to ihe thinker. No doubt 
it contains some exaggerations, but it is correct 
in the main, and is an admirably applied and 
much required dose for our overweening conceit 



of our national prejudices and pride. It might have 
been entitled " An Exposition of the Influences of 

A retiirii to the region of fiction was perhaps acce> 
■lerated by a tour on the Contiuent, Passing over 
the " Pilgrims of the Rhine," a piece of prettinesB in 
literature beautifully illustrated, — a work which, to 
use appropriate language, a perfect gentleman might 
permit himself to wriie for a thousand pounds — we 
see Sir Lytton Bulwer in his ovm element again upon 
the publication of his " Last Days of Pompeii ;" fol- 
lowed by "Rienzi," and, at intervals wonderfully 
short, by " Ernest Maltravers," " Alice," " Night and 
Morning," " Zanoni," and " The Last of the Barons." 

Had the author of these works — giving evidence 
of a range and variety of intellect, invention, and 
genius sufficient to satisfy a high ambition — at- 
tempted no other walk of genius, he would have 
stood above and beyond the analytical portion of cri- 
ticism, and commanded its far more worthy and 
genial office of synthetical appreciation of excellence. 
But he has aimed at the fame of a poet, and a dra- 
matist, besides. Those who are used to think of Sir 
Lytton Bulwer as a uniformly successful author; a 
sort of magician under whose wand paper will always 
turn into gold, do not know that several already for- 
gotten poema have been put forth by him since hiE' 
acquirement of popularity, the very names of whici 

VOL. 11. K 


iound strange. " Ismael, an Oriental Tale," "Leilt 
tn the Siege ofGranada," " The Siamese Twins" have 
gone into forgetfulness, and " Eva and other poems 
and tales," are not destined to a long life. Then there 
have been patriotic songs, and odes, in which there 
was a curious mixture of the roast-beef of Old Eng- 
land style, with an attempt at imaginative impulse 
and intensity of meaning, depending chiefly for high 
person I flea t ions and abstract qualities upon the use 
of capital letters. Moreover, there was a tragedy of 
" Cromwell" which is said to have been re-written, 
and its design and character totally changed while it 
was going through the press : and finally, after itwa*| 
printed, it was suppressed. " The public was nok' 
worthy of it," — we heard this intimated. But there 
were some few intellects alive who were ; and they 
could not obtain it. Besides, the public has many 
good things of which it is not worthy, as a mass 
and yet, here and there, the right sort of man alwayi 
picks up the right sort of book to his thinking. 
That there are great elements of popular success, 
[^^ and a mastery of the worldly side of it, in SirLyttoit.1 
^^H Bnlwer, is undoubted ; nor would it in the least sui 
^^V prise us if he became a peer of the realm, sometimiti 
within the next ten years; nevertheless there are 
several other things whicli he cannot accomplish. 
The known dramatic works of Sir Lytton Bulwer 
I'Consist of "The Duchess de la Valliere," "Thq. 




Lady of Lyons," " Richelieu," " The Sea Captain," 
and " Money," all brought out on the stage by Mr. 
Macready. The first waa deservedly a failure. Of 
the others, one only reiaina a share of popularity, 
but its share is a large one. " The Lady of 
Lyons" is a decided favourite with the pubhc. It 
is usual to place its author among the first of modern 
dramatists, which he decidedly is not, as well as 
among the first of our novelists, which lie assuredly 
is, of whatever period. 

The charm of the " Lady of Lyons" results from 
the interest of the plot, the clear and often pathe- 
tic working of the story, the easy tlow of the dia- 
logue, the worldly morality, and the reality of the 
action, just aiiffioiently clothed in an atmosphere of 
poetry to take it out of the mere prose of exist- 
ence, without calling upon the imagination for any 
effort to comprehend it. All this, united with every 
advantage that scenic effect and excellent acting 
could give, established the " Lady of Lyons " in a 
popularity which it has always retained. But this 
alone is not the mede of a great dramatist. The 
plot of the play in question will not bear examina- 
tion by any high standard. A heart is treacherously 
wonj then, when after the cruel conflict with its 
own just indignation, it is ready to forgive all and 
continue true to its love, it is deserted with cruelty 
as great as the former treachery, all because a sdf- 
K 2 



loving notion of "honour" demands the sacri&i 
The old false preference of the shadow for the sub 
stance! Tlien, at last, when honour is satisfied all 
is right. It ia made right by the lover having been 
to battle, and " fought away " and obtained rank 
and property. In the last scene he literally pur- 
chases the lady — the price passing before her very 
face. This is fostering our worst faults; exciting 
sympathy for the errors that are among the most 
prolific sources of " the weariness, the fever, and the 
fret " of our life. 

" Money" had a better purpose, was more clever 
and witty, and was superior in its structure; but 
while the power of money, and all its undue influence 
in the world, was excellently displayed, the osten- 
sible and popular moral tendency of the play was to 
encourage the acquisition as a legitimate and honour- 
able means for attaining objects of all kinds, — a 
triumph of the purse over every thought and feeling. 
The author shows his contempt for this condition of 
the world ; but only meets it upon its own ground, 
instead of taking a higher. It was very successful 
Qt first, but is now seldom acted. " Richelieu " had 
also 4 " run " on its first appearance ; but has never 
since been represented. 

The character of Sir Lytlon Biilwer's mind is 
analytical, rather than impulsive; elaborate and cir- 
cuilons, rather than concentrating and direct; fanci- 



ful rather than imaginative ; refining and finishing, 
rather than simple and powerful ; animated and vivid, 
rather than passionate and fiery. He constructs 
upon system, rather than upon sensation ; and works 
by his mode), and with little help from instinct. 
His strongest faith is in the head, not in the heart ,- 
and for these reasouB he is not a great dramatist. 
Nor can all the labour and skill in the world make 
him one. But he is philosophical and artistical, and 
is pretty sure to display both intellect and skill in 
whatever he undertakes. 

Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer is a great novelist; 
his name will rank among the masters in the art, 
and his works will live together with theirs. It is 
sufficient to mention the names of such compositions 
as " Paul Clifford," " Eugene Aram," " Night and 
Morning," " Ernest Malt ravers," — with its sequel of 
" Ahce " — and " Zanoni," to feel fearless in making 
this assertion. The variety and originality displayed 
in these fine works; the invention; the practical 
knowledge, and clever working of character ; the 
fine art in the management of the plot ; the elegance 
of the style: the power over the feelings in deep 
pathos; all these qualities combine to place their 
author in the highest rank of this department of 

In calling to mind the list of Bulwer's novels, 
those we have mentioned occurred first as master- 


pieces, but others remain behind to which otluf^^l 
tastes may give the preference. " Pelham has neve^^^^ 


been a favourite with us, iiotv^ithstanding its decided 
Buperiority to its contem|jurary " fashionable novels." 
We cannot relish philosophy or abstraot speculatiqi 
(and we grant these in " Pelham ") from the saU 
mouth which discusses the fopperies of ihe toilette," 
and how to make a pair of trousers I "A fine 
gentleman" is not to our taste, and tliere is quite 
enough worldly morality in the actual world without 
putting it down in a book, as a good thin^ worth 
repeating. " The last Days of Pompeii," wove into 
a story of deep interest and beauty, the memories of 
the classic times ; and the character of Nydia, the 
blind girl, will last as long as our language endures. 
" Rienzi " is, perhaps, the least marked by genius of 
any of its author's later works of fiction. 

Among those first enumerated, "Eugene Aram" 
is distinguished for the development of a great and 
isubtle truth. In the dreadful crime into which the 
benevolent and gifted scholar is betrayed at the 
very moment when he is full of ardour for knowledge 
and virtue, small cavillers are apt to ask, could 
a benevolent or virtuous nature act thus? — how 
can it be natural? We consider that the revela- 
tions of genius here displayed may fairly be said 
to have recorded a consciousness that in the moral 
as well as the physical frame, " we are fearful^ J 



vvoDderfully made ;" that when the inBtiDcta and 
the passions are over-mastered by the intellect, and 
man rests proudly on his boasted reason alone, lie 
may work strange deeds before " high Heaven ;" 
that he must beware of the casuistries of his brain no 
less than the wild workings of his heart, and that 
the afTections and passionB are the grand purifiers, 
the master movers, the voice of God in the soul, 
regulating the speculative, daring reason, and con- 
trolling as well as impelling action. This is to write 
greatly ; to write philosophy and history, the physio- 
logy of sensation, and aggregate and individual truth. 

In '* Ernest Maltravers " is pourtrayed the train- 
ing of genius to the business of life ; a hard task, 
and accomplished in a truly philosophical spirit. 
But as examples of excellence in his art, as well 
as of variety in its manifestation, we would espe- 
cially dwell on " Paul Clifford," " Night and Morn- 
ing," and " Zanoni." 

" Paul Clifford " is of the same class as the 
" Beggars' Opera," and worthy to rank with it. 
While its hero is a highwayman, and the lowest 
characters are introduced in ii, who have an appro.- 
priate dialect, there is nothing in it that could for a 
moment shock any one of real delicacy, and there 
is a tinge of the ideal wrought into the very texture 
of most of these men which renders them interesting 
to the imagination, as their good feeling and bon- 

} iommie, with the total abaeDce of anything brutafl 
jross, reconciles them to the mind, and obtains a 
hold upon the sympathies. But beaides being i 
dividiializcd, as well as the representatives of classes, j 
several of them are also latent satires upon certain-f 
known men of our time. Some of these are 
niirable, but more especially Old Bags, Fighl 
Attie, and Peter Macgrawler. Long Ned and Au- 
gustus Tomlinson are exquisite. One of the fines 
scenes — that of the trial, where the judtre is the 
father of the criminal, is taken from Mrs, Inchbald. 
With this exception, the work, in its various parts, 
and as a \vhole, is a tine original. The author does not 
make his hero admired for any one bad quality, but 
for naturally high qualities independent of the worst 
circumstances. It is a skilful work of art, and its 
moral tendency is noble, healthy, and full of exhor- 
tations to the manful struggle after good. 

The character of Philip Beaufort in " Night and 4 
Morning," is a fine conception, and as finely pour- 
trayed from the moment that he is first shown a proud 
and pampered boy, imperious in his strength and 
beauty, onwards through the bitter trials of hitf 
" night," till by the energy of his will, always kepi 
up to the mark by the intensity of his affeetious, I 
works his own way to clear " morning." His boy- 
hood and youth are carried forward on a swelling tide 
passion, which is sustained to the ■ 




and ^^J 

rI^Idward ltttom bolweb. 201 

work, and leaves the mind elevated by its con- 
templation. There is great variety of character in 
the book : the rapid sketch of the father of Philip, 
and the exquisitely finished portrait of the mother, 
moat pathetic in the dignity of her grief; the spoilt, 
gentle, selfish, idolized brother for whom the proud 
Philip works like a menial to be rewarded by in- 
gratitude; the worldly uncle in high life, and the re- 
spectable uncle in the shopocracy; all are excellently 
drawn, but the interest is centred in the principal 
character. The story is equally well managed. The 
plot is complicated, yet clearly worked out; the 
incidents flow much less from outward circumstance 
than from the strong passions and proud will of the 
hero, by which he casta away over and over again the 
aid that would have saved him, rushes into danger 
and disaster, but at length works out his own regen- 
eration, chastened and purified. The interest never 
flags; and those who can get through these three 
volumes with dry eyes, must be made of hard 

" Zanoni " is the most hnrmonious as a work of art, 
the most imaginative, and the purest and highest in 
moral purpose of any of the works of Bulwer. A 
certain peculiarity of style has laid it open to the 
charge of imitation, and many of the ideas and senti- 
ments gathered from Plato, from Schiller, Richter, 
and Goi^ihc, have induced superficial readers to term 
K 5 



it a compilation. Sir Lytton Bulwer has been heard 
declare hia opinion that it was quite fair to take an] 
thing from an older author — if you could improve il 

This opens a most dangerous door to human vanil 
as it would excuse any one to himself, for taking any- 
thing. Our author must not therefore be surprised if 
this notion has occasionally laid liim open to vexa- 
tious remarks from hatf-aeeing censurers. Notwitl 
standing any of its obligations, "Zanoni" is a trul; 
original work ; a finished design ; embodying a great 
principle and pervaded by one leading idea. In the 
fable of " Zanoni " is depicted the triumph of the 
sympathetic over the selfish nature; both these tei 
being understood in their largest sense. Unde: 
selfisb, being comprised the pleasures of the iotellect, 
the clear light of science, the love of the beautiful, 
the worship of art; — under the sympathetic, love in 
its most devoted and spiritual meaning, love losing 
the sense of self, stronger than life and death, 
rendering sacrifice easy, hallowing sorrow, endowing 
the soul with courage and faith. In order to bring 
out the principle in the strongest manner some super- 
natural machinery is employed, and the hero is sup- 
posed to possess the knowledge of ages and the 
secret of immortality. Love is also represented as 
the means by which the mind grasps the beneficent 
order and harmony of the Universe, in which Death 
is not an exception, but an integral part when viewed 


Edward lytton bulweh. 203 

connection with Eternity. This trutli may be 
attained also by pure reason, but the philosophical 
author has chosen to ascribe it to the intuitive teach- 
ing of pure passion. In like manner, Tennyson, in 
his fine poem of " Love and Death," makea Love 
" pierce and cleave " the gloom in his address to 

^^H Death ;— 

^^^^B " Tfaou art tlie sbidoir of tife, and ns tbe tree 

^^^^H Slaada in the sim lad absdows all beneatb, 

^^^^V So in the light of great eternity 

^^^V Life eiiiiaeut creates the shnde ordeath ; 

^^^^^m The shadow pasaeth whea the tree shall fall, 

^^^B But T shall reign for ever over 

^^^^B In the course of the story there are many valuable 
^^^^■secondary suggestions and ideas. The new creation 
^^^^Which opens to the eyes of those who are awakened 
^^^■■to the grandeur and myetery of things, and seek a 
higher life and knowledge, is beautifully shadowed 
forth in the floating forms of light that seem to fill the 
air when the young aspirant, Glyndon, first inhales 
l^^nthe elixir of life; while the dread of "the world," 
^^^B'tbat common world which has always followed with 
its persecution and its scorn the best and the noblest, 
the strikers out of new paths, the pioneers and 
heralds of progression, this nameless dread is em- 
bodied with singular power in the " Dweller of the 
Threshold." There is more still implied in this 
r haunter of " first steps." Every new birlh is ushered 
with a pang — every new idea enlarges the capacity 



for pain aa well as for pleasure, and who ever felt tlifl^ 
inspiration of a new and great feeling without^ 
trembling ? The following passage contains the 1 
imagery tu which we ha^e alluded;— 

" Aud now be diatincllj mw ahapes BOmeirhat resembling io out* 
line tlioieofthe human form, gliding sIovfIj and iriLb regulm evola- 
tioos tlirougii tLu cloud. Aa lljey moved in mujeatio order, he beard 
a low sound — which eatli oaughl and echoed from Ihe other; a loir 
sound, but music b1, which aeemed Ihe chant of some u Hspeakahly 
tninii«il J05. Slowly they glided round and aloft, till, in the Bame 
majestic order, one after one, they Scaled through the caaement and 
were lost in die moonlight ; tlien as bts eyes followed Ibem, (he case- 
meat became darliened with BomB object indiatinguishable ai the first 
gaze, but n-bich aufficed mysteriously to change into ineffable horror 
the delight be had before 61 perienced. By degreeathisobject shapad 
itself to bia sight. It waa aa that of a human bead, oovered witb ■ 
dark veil, through which glaied with livid and demoniac fire, syea that 
froie the marrow iu bis bones." 

This is fearfully beautiful painting. Many could 
bear wiiDess to the truthrnlness of its suggesliouB. 
Cowardly fear and distrust give the triumph to this 
phantom ; courage and faith alone can conquer it ; 
courage to btave danger or disgrace; faith in tlie 
truth, love of the beauty and the good to which the 
mind aspires. In the narrative, the author has repre- 
sented the presence of this loathsome thing as a 
necessary part of the ordeal which the neophyte must 
go through ; a presence only to be biini^hed by those 
who can firmly confront its terrible eyes, ^t vanishes 
I always before a steady gaze. The whole of the 




pernatural machinery of the story is, in like 
manner, founded on profound truths connected with 
the mysteries of our being. The fiibled events repre- 
sent, or are types of, the hnksof association, the sym- 
pathies and antipathies, the instincts, smothered or 
left undeveloped in cooimon life by the nature of 
our education, pursuits and habits, but not the less 
elemental principles of nature. 

The character of Viola, the woman tlirongh whom 
Love asserts his pre-eminence — his " reign eternal 
over all " is exquisitely drawn in the first portion of 
the story. Her life ys an actress, with the pathetic 
history of the musician Pisani, her father, are es- 
pecially beautiful. The charm of the ideal is thrown 
over everything connected with her, and her purity, 
childlike and spotless, combined with her impas- 
sioned devotion to Zanoni, the hero, render the 
picture perfect. Out of this lovely character, how- 
ever, arises the grand fault of the work, as an ethical 
harmony. It is the compromise of her passion for 
Zanoni by her maternal instinct over-mastering it. 
When she becomes a mother, she deserts her husband 
for the sake of her child. This is a heresy against a 
pure and exalted love. It is too true that it happens 
Tery commonly in real life, but not with such a 
woman, and such a love, it was necessary to the 
course of the story to remove her from her great pro- 
tector, yet some other means should have been in- 


vented. Deep nature is sacrificed to an immediate 
requisitiou of the narrative. The mistake is cleverly 
effected by the aid of superstition. But superstition 
could never have been so strong as her love — because, 
as we have said before, a great and ennobling passion 
is the voice of God in the soul, and banishes all weak 
fears. The exalted faitli of Zanoni, and the heart- 
broken intensity of affection in Viola under the 
separation, are finely done ; and the re-union still 
finer. They meet again in a dungeon in Paris in the 
Reign of Terror. Viola is condemned to die, and 
Zanoni relinquishes his " charmed life," his immor- 
tality of youth, to save her. He leaves her asleep 
when his guards call him to execution. She is un- 
conscious of the terrible sacrifice, but awaking and 
missing hini, a vision of the procession to the guil- 
lotine comes upon her j Zanoni radiant in his youth 
and beauty is there ; — 

" On (0 Ihe Barriere da Trune ! It frovrna daik in the air — iLe 
giant iDBtmrnent of murder I One after one to the glaivo ; — another, 
and Bnotlier, and another! Mercy I O mercy! ia the bridge 
iKlKeeolhe sun and the sLades so briefl — brief as a aigh ^ Thera 



me— hear me!' shrieked the iuapired ale 

per. 'What! and 


amilest BtiU!' They smiled — ihose pale 

ips — and vrilh ihe 


or vanished ! Wilb 

that smile, all space seem suffused in elemai sunabine. Uji from tha 
earth he ro5e< — be hovered over her — a thing not of matter — an idea 
of joj and light 1 Behind, HeaTon opened, deep after deep ] and tbe 
Soslsof Ben'jty were Been rank upon rank, a^i and ' Welcome,' in 




(Haymd melodiea broke from jour choral niuliiluda, je Peoplo of ihe 

f Bkiea — ' Welcome I O purified by sacrifice, aad immorlal only tlirougb 
^ve — tbis it is to die.' And ndinat smidat tbe radiaDt, [ha 

[ image strelched forlh ila arms, and murmured lo the sleeper, " Com- 
panion of Elemily ! — this it is (o die !' • * * * 

"They burst into a cell, forgotten since tbe previoas morning. 
They found ibere u young female, aitdog upon her wretched bad ; ber 
■rma crossed upon her bosom, ber face raised upward ; the eves un- 
alosed, and a smile of more than serenity,— of blias upon her lips. 
Never had tbey seen life so beautiful; end as Ihey crept nearer, and 
with noiseless feet, tliey sbH' that the lips breathed not, that the 

I repass was of marble, tbat the beauty and tlie ecstasy were of 

' death." 

We have quoted this beautirul passage because it 
ought to remain on record, singled out as an example 
of pure and exalted conception. To those who knew 
it before, it will be renewed pleasure ; to those who did 
not, an inducement to become acquainted with the 
work from which it is selected. 

It is strange that in a composition which embodies 
so much high pbilosofhy, the author should have 
taken so puerile a view of the French Revolution, 
He dwells only on its horrors,-— a iheme long since 
exhausted. True, they were many and great; — but 
slaughterous battles for legitimacy, and long ages of 
despotism, and inquisitions, and Sicilian massacres, 
and massacres of Saint Bartholomew, have had their 
horrors too.* Sir Lytton laments over " the throi 

9, tK. Uaciulaj'i Euifi 


and the altar!" Words of high and very ancient 
sound ; but what besides words were tliey at that 
period. In a note to a passage in his Zanoni, he 
says "Take away murder from the French Re vol a - 
lion, and it becomes the greatest farce ever played 
before the angels!" The greatest farce! — waa the 
decrepitude and fall of the altar, then, a farce after 
all — the decrepitude and fall of the throne a farce, j 
after all — the brutalized vices of the nobles, their ' 
despotism and ail-but extinction as a nobility — were 
these things only a great farce? Rather say, the 
greatest and most frightful retribution, the most 
abused principle, the greatest expiatory sacrifice, the | 
most comprehensive tragedy— any of these are nearer I 
the mark, historically, morally, philosophically, and 
as matter of human feeling. 

It is from passages such as this, strangely at vari- 
ance with the philosophical spirit which is unques- I 
tionably manifested in the writings of this author, 
that he gives an impression of shallowness, and also 
of insincerity and affeclation. Whatever be the 
cause, it is certain that he lays bim^ielf opeu to these 
charges. Without coinciding in the accusation of i 
shallowness, it is fair to say that he cannot pretend 
to the distinction of an original or profound thinker, 
or a discoverer of truth ; but it is mnch to be capable 
of perceiving and appreciating truth when dug up 
and displayed by others, and this Buhver does; he 



does more, he is able to assimilate it, and make it in 
BOme respects hia own, by giving it new forms and 
colours, all in harmony with itself. His aft'ectft lions, 
we take to proceed, partly, from the fact that his mind 
does not always keep up to the high mark it attains 
when imbued with the philosophy it is capable of 
comprehending, but does actually disport itself in 
certain fripperies and follies; and, partly, from the 
necessity he is under of displaying no more truth to 

I the world than the world can bear with complacency. 

I An honest-minded reviewer of the works of Sir 
E, L. Bulwer baa said of him, " his soul isnot brave 
enongh for truth," This is scarcely correct: he is 
brave enough to face any truth, but his policy holds 

I check upon his soul. He knows what a strong buU- 

I headed thing the world is, and he loves popularity 
too well to risk having it trampled down by hoofs. 
He never, therefore, goes too far beyond his age; but 
be keeps up with it always. Hence he maintains his 

■ popularity, and perhaps when his intellect feels the 

I necessity of reining in, it turns a little restive and 
indulges in some curvets at the expense of the 
" gentle readers" he feels obliged to humour. It is 
further to be admitted Lliat be is essentially aristo- 

I cratic in bia taates and feelings; that in his writings 
■- there is no true sympathy with humanity until it is 

ktefined and pobahed. Grant this, however, and he is 
i great writer. The true delineation of rough nature 


must not be expected of bim. Tbe unpoIisb^l^^H 




diamond he would recognise, and turn coldly from it 
nature, with him, requires to be perfected — by art. 
He is prone to idealise all his characters. With few 
•exceptions ihey are the reverse of real or subatanliaL. 
'Jfot that we would have them real, but with rather ft. 
'larger portion of reality. His walk, 
4east of all frequented in this age, and he pursues il 
in general, worthily. 

If Sir Lytton Bulwer had not already established' 
a higher reputation, he might have fairly laid ciaii 
to distinction as an historian from his well-studiedj 
classical, and elegant work entitled "Athens, its Rise 
and Fall;" in whicii he has occupied the truer and 
■more extensive field over which history ought to 
extend, instead of confining himself to the mere 
chronicle of political events, and the vicissitudes of 
war. The progress of the arts and literature of 
Athens, comprising some 6ne criticism on its dramaj 
are distinguishing features of the two volumes already 
published, and its philosophy, social manners and 
customs are promised in the two which are to com- 
plete the work. 

The " Last of the Barons" ought to have been 
published in the form of history, entitled " Chroni- 
cles of the Great Earl of Warwick," or something 
equivalent: it would have been valuable to all int&» 
Tested in such matters, Read 




• intolerably tedious and heavy, and its authenticity 

and elaborate research are thrown away ; — for, the 
question " Is it all true?" must continually occur, 
just as children are apt to interrupt the thread of a 
.story with that inquiry. Doubtless, historical novels 
are among the most popular we have, aa, for instance, 
those of Sir Walter Scott, and " Rienzi," by Bulwer 
himself; but, in them, the fiction predominates, in 
the " Last of the Barons," it is the reverse. 
., Sir K L. Bulwer is, in private, a very different and 

1 superior man to the character indicated by the 
■portraits of him. That by Cbalon, conveys the 
last infirmities of mawkish sentimentality and per- 
sonal affectation; whereas Sir Lytton is very frank, 
easy, careless (sometimes, perhaps, studiously so) 
good-natured, pleasant, conversible, and without one 
tint of those lack-a-daisy qualities conferred upon 
him by the artists. If his sitting had its "weak 
moment," the artist ought not to have copied it, but 
to have taken the best of the truth of the whole man. 
Now, it Hirti/ be the fact, that nothing would convey 
iO complete a conviction to the mind of Sir Lytton 
of his own genius and general talents, and so perfect 
a sensation of inward satisfaction and happiness, as 
to be seated at a table — say in the character of an 
Ambassador — with his fingers covered with dazzling 
lings, and his feet delightfully pinched in a pair of 

l.looking-gIasa boots with Mother-Shipton heels, while 


he held a conversation with two diplomatic Foreigat 
of dislinctioii, from different courts, each in his 

language ; took up the thread of an argument with a 
philosopher on his right; put in every now and then 
a capital repartee to the last remark of a wit at his, 
left elbow, while at every moment's pause he con- 
tinued three letters lying before him — one to the 
Minister of State for the Home Department, one to 
a friend (inclosing a postscript for his tailor), and one 
on love, containing some exquisite jokes in French 
and Ilahan on the Platonic Republic — and all those 
conversations, and arguments, and repartees, and 
writings, continuing at the same time — each being fed 
from the same fount with enough to last till the turn 
came round. And finally, that be should discover the 
drill: of one diplomatist, talk over the other to his 
views, confute the philosopher, silence the court wit, 
convey the most important information to the English 
Premier, give his friend all the advice he asked, and 
something far more subtle besides, (together with tha 
clearest directions and fractional measurements in the' 
postscript,) and that the love-letter should not only 
answer every possible purpose of kindliness, delight, 
amusement and admiration, but should, by a turn of 
the wrist, be easily convertible into an exquisite 
chapter for a future novel. 

But where is the great mischief of any private fan- 
|<cies of this kind, which moreover have some founda- 




tioti in an undoubted versatility and general accom- 
plishments? £ven in the matter of external dain- 
tiness, a great deal too much fuss is made about it, 
I many ill-natured remarks vented, as if no other 
: eminent man had a private hobby. If the private 
hobbies of the majority of our leading minds, and 
well-known men of genius, were displayed, the eyes 
of the Public would open to the largest circle, 
and its mouth become pantomimic. One great author 
has a fancy for conjuring tricks, which he performs 
"in a small circle," to admiration ; another would 
play at battledore and shuttle-cock, till he dropped; 
another or two (say a dozen) prefer a ballet to any 
other work of art; one likes to be a tavern-king, 
and to be placed in "the chair;" another pre- 
fers to sit on a wooden bench round the fire of a 
hedge alehouse, and keep all the smock-frocka in a 
roar; two or three are amateur mesmerists, and 
practise "the passes" with prodigious satisfaction; 
one poet likes to walk in a high wind and a pelting 
rain, without his hat, and repeating his verses aloud ; 
another smokes during half the day, and perhaps half 
the night, with his feet upon the fender and puffing 
the cloud up the chimney; another sits rolled up in 
a bear's-skin,andassoon as be has got "the idea, "he 
rushes out to write it down ; another has a fancy for 
playing all sorts of musical instruments, and could 
not be left alone in a room with organ, bag-|)ipe, or 



baBsooii, but in & few minutes a Bymphony woult 
begin to vibrate through the wall; — and if so mm 
ia thought of an over-attention to a man's bodily 
outside, what should bo said of those who — as one 
would fill a tub — ponr or craoi into the bodily inside 
BO much that is not harmleBs, but injures health, and 
with it injures the powers of tlie mind, and the moral 
feelings, besides shortening the duration of life. We. 
should look into ourselves, and be tolerant. 

Notwithstanding the popularity of Sir E. L. 
Bulwer, we hardly think he has been sufBciently ap-' 
predated as a great novelist by the majority, even of 
those critics who admire his works ; while the 
hostile attacks and depreciations have been very 
numerous and unceasing. Of his philosophy we 
would say in brief that we believe the world is hardly 
in the main so bad as be considers it, and certainly 
with many more exceptions than he seems to admit; 
and that he himself is a much better man than he 
knows of, and only wants more faitli in genuine and 
sincere nature to be himself the possessor of a share 


I large a 

a faith. 


" Madame Tussaud describes * * * * as a fine handsome-looking man, with a 

florid complexion, and a military air. He had presided over some of the 

massacres in the provinces." 

Madaxb Tcssaud's Memoir*, 

** With regard to the personal descriptions of the different characters introduced 
throughout the worlL, it may be confidently asserted, that they are likely to be 
more accurate than those generally given by other authors." 

Ibid. Preface. 


From the hislorical novel and romnace, as re- 
originated, in modem times, by Madame de Genlis 
■ and Sir Walter Scott, and adopted with such high 
success by Sir E. L. Bulwer, and with such exten- 
sive popularity by Mr. James, there has of late 
years sprung up a sort of lower or leas historical 
romance, in which the chief part of the history con- 
sisted in old dates, old names, old houses, and old 
clothes. But dates in themselves are but numerals, 
names only sounds, houses and streets mere things 
to be copied from prints and records; and any one 

I may do the same with regard to old coats, and hats, 

wigs, waistcoats, and boots. Now, we know that 

" all flesh is grass," but grass is not flesh, for all 

that; nor is it of any use to show us hay for humanity. 

To throw the soul back into the vitality of the 

Lpast, to make the imagination dwell with its scenes 


ItDd walk hand in hand with knowledge ; to liv^^^^l 
with its most eminent men and women, and enter ^^^^ 

into their feelings and thoughts as well as their 
abodes, and be sensitive with. them of the striking J 

I events and ruling influences of the time; to do alL^^^H 

I this, and to give it a vivid foim in words, so as to^^^H 

! bring it before the eye, and project it into the aym- ^^^^ 

pathies of the modern world, this is to write the ' 

I truest history no less than the finest historical fic- 

tion ; this is to be a great historical romancist — I 

something very different from a reviver of old clothes. I 

^^^ 8uuh are the extremes of this class; and if there ^^^J 
^^h4k very few who in execution approach the higho^^^H 
^^Vvtandai'd, so there are perhaps none who do not^^^f 
I display some merits which redeem them from the I 

chaise of a mere raking and furbishing up of by-gone ■, 

materials. But as there is a great incursion of these ^^^J 
un-historical un-romantlc romances into the literar^^^H 
ture of the present day, and fresh adventurers maffr^^^H 
shailing their powers of plunder on the borders, it | 

I may be of some service that we have drawn a strong 

I line of demarcation, displaying the extreme distinc- 

tions, and leaving the application to the general^ 
I judgment. ^ 

I With regard to the Newgate narrative of " Jack 

I Sheppard" and the extraordinarily extensive notoriety 

it obtained for the writer, upon the residuum of which 
I he founded his popularity, so much just severity haw | 


already been administered from criticism and from 
the opinion of the intellectual portion of the public, 
and its position has been &o fully settled, that we are 
glad to paas over it without farther animadversion. 

The present popularity of Mr, Aingworth could not 
have risen out of its own materials. His so-called 
historical romance of "Windsor Castle" is not to 
be regarded as a work of literature open to serious 
criticism. It is a picture book, and full of very pretty 
pictures. Also full of catalogues of numberless 
suits of clothes. It would be difficult to open it any 
where without the eye falling on such words as cloth 
of gold, silver tissue, green jerkin, white plumes. 

Looking for an illustration, we are stopped at the 
second page. Here is the introduction of two cha- 
racters: — 

" Hia counlenancB was full of thought and intelligonoe ; and be had 
a broad, \otty bran', abaded b^ a profusion of ligbt brown ringlela ; a 
long, straight, and Unel^'-formed nose ; a full, seniilive, and well- 
chiselted mouth ; and a pointed chin. Si'is ejes were lai^e, dark, and 
■omen-bat meiancbolj in expressioa ; and bia compleiion paesessed 
that rich, clear, brown tint, conatanl!)- met with in Italy or Spain, 
though but seldom Been in a native of our colder clime. His drese 
w»a ricii but sombre, consisting of a doublet of black satin, worked 
with threads of Venetian gold ; hose of Ibo aami) material, and simi- 
larly embroidered ; a abirt curiously wrought witli black silk, and 
fastened at the collar with black enamelled clasps ; a cloak of black 
velrst, passmenled with gold, and lined with crimson satin ; a flat 
black velret cap, set witb pearls and goldsmith's work, and adorned 
t wilh B abort white plume ; and black velvet buskins, Hia arms were 
L 2 


I npUr and dagger, botJi hHring gilt and graven hoadlaB 

" As be moved along lbs Bonnd of voices chaadng vee^ 
from Saint George's Cbnpel ; and irhilo be pBaaed to liati 
•olemn strains, a door in lliat part of Ibe caatle used as tl 
priiy lodgings, opened, and a peraoa advanced towards bim. Tbe 
new-comer bad liroad, brown, martial -looking features, darkened still 
more bj a tbick conl-blaok beard, clipped ahurt in tbe faabian of tho 
time, and a pair of euoimous moustacblos. He was eocoutred ii 
habergeon, wbich gleamed from benoatb tbe folds of a rusaet-coloarei 
mantle, and wore a steel cap in lien of a bozineton bis bend." 

Windtor Castle, p. 3 — 3, ■ 

The book is also full of procGssIons, banquets, royal 
hunting parties, courtiers, lords, and jesters, who 
indeed " very dull fools." It has, moreover, a den 
ghost in the form of Heme the Hunter, who 
jcording to this legend, led King Henry VHI. ani^ 
all his court the life of a dog. As to plot or storyJ 
it does not pretend lo any. 

"Old St. Paul's, a tale of the Plague and thd 
Fire," is a diluted imitation of some parts of De Foe's 
" Plague in London," varied with libertine adveaj 
tures of Lord Rochester and his associates. It itf 
generally dull, except when it is revolting. There 
are descriptions of nurses who poison or smother 
their patients, wretched prisoners roasted alive in 
beir cells, and one felon who thrusts his arms 
irough the red-hot bars, — " literally" is added, by 
i*ay of apology. 

A critic recently remarked of Mr. Ainsworth's 1 


" St. James's, or the Court of Queen Anne," 
that the delineations of character in it were mere 
portraits, and nothing more. " The business in which 
they are engaged has no vitality for any but them- 
selves — it is dull, passe in every sense of the word, 
and they leave not a single incident or memento of 
romance or poetry behind them by which to identify 
them ia our hearts ; so that, in truth, we turn back 
from these cut-and-dry dummies to Maclise's portrait 
of Mr. Ainsworth quite as a matter of relief; and as 
we sit contemplating his handsome and cheerful 
lineaments, wonder how, in the name of all that is 
romantic, he will get through the task which he has 
assigned to himself, of rendering the dullest period 
of our history amusing to our "mass" of readers. 
It is one thing to write an historical romance ; another, 
to write a romantic history; and a third to write a 
history without any romance." This is all very just, 
and we might quote many similar opinions. 

It has become very plain, that brief as this paper 
is, the natural termination of it can no longer be 
delayed. The truth must be told. This paper is a 
joint-production. No sooner were the first two para- 
graphs seen, than the article was taken out of the 
writer's hands in order to prevent a severity which 
seemed advancing with alarming strides. But the 
continuation by another hand appearing to be very 
r little better, recourse was had to a quotation from 

** Out of th« depths of Xfttare — 
Substance, shades, or dreams. 

Thou Shalt call up— sift— and take 

What seems fitting best to make 
A Structure, fraught with direful gleams. 
Or one all filled with sunny beams." 

*' Gti you, who sentried stand ui>on the temple wall ; 
Holy, and nearer to the g^ry's golden fall. 
Moon-like, possess and shed at large its rays I" 


" For though 

Not to be pierced by the dull eye whose beam 
Is spent on outward shapes, there is a way 
To make a search into its hidden'st passage." 


The imaginative romance as distinguished from the 
historical romance, and the actual or social life fic- 
tion, is of very rare occurrence in the literature of the 
present day. Whether the cause lies with the 
writers or the public, or the character of events and 
influences now operating on society, certain it is that 
the imaginative romance is- almost extinct among us. 

We had outgrown the curdling horrors and breath- 
less apprehensions of Mrs. Ratcliffe, and the roseate 
pomps of Miss Jane Porter, But why have we no 
Franken steins, for that fine work is in advance of 
the age ? 

Perhaps we ought to seek the cause of the scarcity 

in the difficulty of the production. A mere fruitless, 

purposeless excitement of the imagination will not do 

!. The imaginative romancers required to be a 

I sort of epic — a power to advance — a something to pro- 

L 6 



pel the frame of things. Such ia Bulwer's " Zanoni," 
a profound and heautiful work of fiction, which has 
been reviewed in its place, and in which Godwin's 
" St. Leon" fonnd a worthy successor. With this eingle 
exceplion, the first place among the romances of our 
day belongs to the "Frankenstein" of Mrs. Shelley. 
The solitary student with whom the longing desire 
to pry into the secrets of nature, ends in the discovery 
of the vital principle itself, and the means of com- 
municating it, thus describes the consummation of 
his toils. We quote the passage as illustrative of 
the genius by which the extrav^ance of the con- 
ception is rendered subservient to artistical effect: — 

" It waa OQ a dcearj nigbt of Kovsmber, tEiat I beheld the nocom- 
plisbment of my toils. With an miiietj tlint almost umounted to 
agoay, 1 collectod [he iaBtruments of Ufe Bround me, lliut I might 
iofuse spark of being into the lifeleas thing that lay el my feet. It 
WHS already one in the morning ; the ruin pattered dismally against 
tlie panes, and my candle wsa nearly burnt out, when, by the gUmtner 
of the hslf-eiliiiguished light, I Raw the dull yellow eye of the ores^ 
lure open ; it breathed hard, and a convDlsive motion agitated its 

" How can I deEcriba my emotjona at this catastrophe, or how 
delineate the wretch whom with such infipile pains and enre I had en- 
deavoured to form 1 His limba were in proportion, and I had selected 
bJB features aa beautiful. Beautiful I — Great Cod t Ilis yellon- aim 
Bcarcel)' coiered the n'ork of muscles and arteries beDoatb \ bis hair 
was of aluatrous black, and Soiving ; his teeth of a pearly Rhiteness ; 
hut tbeso luxuriances ooly formed a more horrid contrast with his 
watery eyes, thai eeemed almost of the same colour as the dun white 




Bockecs in which the; wera set, his sbrivalled aomplezion, and attaigbt 
black lips." 

FraniefUtein, vol. i. p. 97, 98. 

' The Monster m " FraakenstetD," sublime in his 
ugliness, his simplicity, his passions, his wrongs and 
his strength, physical and mental, embodies in the 
wild narrative more than one distinct and important 
moral theory or proposition. In himself he is the 
type of a class deeply and cruelly aggrieved by 
nature— the Deformed or hideous in figure or coun- 
tenance, whose sympathies and passions are as strong 
as their bodily deformity renders them repulsive. 
An amount of human woe, great beyond reckoning, 
have such experienced. When the Monster pleads 
his cause against cruel man, and when he finally 
disappears on liis raft on the icy sea to build his own 
funeral pile, he pleads the cause of all that class 
who have so strong a claim on the help and sympa- 
thy of the world, yet find little else but disgust or at 
best, neglect. 

( The Monster created by Frankenstein is also an 
illustration of the embodied consequences of our 
actions. As he, when formed and endowed with life 
became to his imaginary creator an everlasting ever- 
I present curse, so may one single action, nay a word, 
lor it may be a thought, thrown upon the tide of time 
(become to its originator a curse, never to be re- 
coveredj never to be shaken off, . 



" Fraiikensteitt"fiuggeBtByet another analogy- It 
teaches the tragic results of attainment when an im- 
petuous irresistible passion hurries on the soul to 
its doom. Such tragic results are the sacrificial 
&res out of which humanity rises purified. They 
constitute one form of the great ministry of Pain. 
The conception of " Frankenstein " is the converse of 
that of the dehghtful German fiction of Peter Schle- 
mil, in which the loss of his shadow (reputation or 
honour) leads on the hero through several griefs 
and troubles to the great simplicity of nature and 
truth; while in "Frankenstein" the oMainmenf of a 
gigantic reality leads through crime and desolation 
to the same goal, but it is only reached in the 
moment of death. 

In "Pantika, or Traditions of the most Ancient 
Times," by William Howitt, there is much imagi- 
native power, and great invention. These tales 
abound in lofty thoughts, and the descriptions are 
both beautiful and grand. The " Exile of Heaven " 
is, perhaps, the finest of the series both in design 
and execution. There is sublimity in the rapid view 
of creation as witnessed by the Angel, and in the 
picture of Cain, and in that of Satan. There is also 
gorgeous and glowing painting in the description of 
the voluptuous city of Lilith the Queen of Beauty, 
whom the Angel in his presumption had created to 
be more perfect than Eve, and through whom be 





liad lost Heaven and brought evil on earth. The 

contrast between this imaginative creation and that 
of Frankenstein is curiona. The punishment here 
comes through beauty, instead of deformity. Lilith 
is made too beautifiil ; it is impossible to sympathise 
with the Angel's hatred of her, or to believe she was 
evil. This is the fault of the story. The attempt 
to make her exquisitely beautiful, yet not aa object 
of any sympathy, is unsuccessful. The fact is, 
" friend Howitt " has got into a very ticklish posi- 
tion. We venture to submit that the loveliness of 
his misleading fair one ought to have been made 
;to fade gradually before the view, as the merely 
^external always does in its influence upon the Eenaes. 
This would, at least, have shown an individual 
triumph over her; but as the story stands she is 
triumphant (as at present the sensual beauty is iu 
the world), with every prospect of continuing so, 
according to the sequel of this gorgeous fable. 

There is a high purpose in the Angel's final 
humility, his submission to the existence of evil, 
and to the impossibility of obliterating the con- 
sequences of action. The teachings which lead to 
this are finely managed; — as when, in his wander- 
ings through space, he sees a dim planet covered 
with water, suddenly become convulsed and tossed 
,in hideous commotion, and while he murmurs at the 
ruin he expects to witness, beholds a fair world 



emerge from these fiery and terrific throes; the 
mountains have risen, the waters are confined to 
their appointed bed, the diy land is ready to become 
clothed with verdure, and a great and beneficent 
work has been done. 

Most of the other tales are built too much on the 
fierce and exclusive spirit of the ancient Jewish 
people. They consequently breathe a vindictive, 
blood-thirsty tone. The horrible puniahment of the 
Starving Man who kills and eats the Scape-goat, and 
then finds himself possessed by all the crimes of 
mankind ; the wretched case of the poor Soothsayer 
cursed by the Hebrew Prophet, and detained in bed 
for a whole year by a congregation of all the Idols in 
his room (standing round hia bed) who will not suffer 
hiin to move, and keep in his life by feeding him on 
oil-cake, till he almost turns into a mummy, and at 
last Bees the Idols begin to crumble round him, and 
reptiles crawling about among the ruins; these are 
fine and striking inventions, worthy of an eastern 
imagination, and only assume a repulsive appearance 
because the Infinite Power of the universe is repre- 
sented as causing them. If Allah or Buddha had 
done this, we should have felt nothing of the kind. 

Had the author of the " Manuscripts of Erdely " 
possessed clearness of conception and arrangement of 
hia subject in the same degree as he is gifted wiUi 
imagination, invention, and fine power of developing 




character and describing both action and scenery, hia 
work would have been entitled to one of the liighest 
places in romance. But Mr. Stephens has dsstroyed 
the effect of hia work by the prodigality of hia 
incidents and peraonages, and by the confuaion of 
his method of dealing with them. There is matter 
for four different plots, with a hero and heroine to 
each, in hia one romance. He gives evidence of 
a learned research and historical knowledge ; we find 
also a puzzling array^of names, not unlike that which 
is to be found in Robert Browning's " Sordello." 
There are, besides, too many quotations, and the 
fault is the less pardonable in a writer of such great 
original power. 

We have said that there is a fine power of descrip- 
tion in this author. In attempting an illustration, 
we are puzzled where to choose, so many present 
themselves. The following beautiful and poetical 
passage must suffice. A man pure in character but 
maligned on earth has appealed to the spirit of his 
dead wife for sympathy : — 

" Spiiit of tlie departed ! 
" He raiaed his e;es, and 
' fiir, lo ! the prayer, that, a 
uflrjf q{ bis soul, had rt 

1 yoa know (hat I am inaocent 7 
cnrdliog thrill crept through his ve 
aosc sileatlj, had welteil up Trani 
:hed its aim, and had an amwer. 

ir depths of the room bocame grodoally hrightened mitb a glaiy, not 

r this n-orld ; and a dim, thia, Lurnun ehapo, alowlj' developed ile 

I indiElinol and abadowy outline, by inaensihly divesting itaelf, ui it 


were, of one immoitil shioud nftar molher, till il stood, pale and con. 
feued, inetbereal repoEe." 

ManuiKriptt o/Brdely, vol. i. p. 307. 

Mrs. Shelley has published, besides " Franken- 
stein," a romance entitled " Valperga," which is less 
known than the former, but is of high merit. She 
exhibits in her hero, a brave and successful warrior, 
arriving at the height of his ambition, endowed 
with uncommon beauty and strength, and with many 
good qualities, yet causes him to excite emotions of 
reprobation and pity, because he is cruel and a 
tyrant, and because in the truth of things he is 
unhappy. This is doing a good work, taking the 
false glory from the eyes and showing things as they 
are. There are two female characters of wondeifiil 
power and beauty. The lieroine is a lovely and noble 
creation. The work taken as a whole, if below 
" Frankenstein " in genius, is yet worthy of its 
author and of her high rank in the aristocracy of 
genius, as the daughter of Godwin and Mary WoU 
stonecraft, and the widow of Shelley. 


" ParnassuB is transformed to Zion Hill, 
And Jewry-palms her steep ascenttf do fill. 
Now good SU Peter weeps pure Helicon, 
And both the Maries make a mosiomoan; — 
Yfif and the prophet of the heavenly lyre, 
Qffat Solomon, sings in the English quire, 
Xb4 la become a new-found BonnetistI" 

Bishop Ha^. Satire 8. 

Mr. P.— "My friend!— (po^^in^ Ais «Aoub{er)~thi8 is not a bell. (Patting 
the tin bell.) It is a very fine Organ I" 

Drama of Punch, 

Humour may be divided inlo three classes; the 
broadj the quiet, and the covert. Broad humour is 
extravagant, voluble, obtrusive, full of rich farce and 
loud laughter: — quiet humour is retiring, suggestive, 
exciting to the imagination, few of words, and its 
pictures grave in tone: — covert humour, (which also 
comprises quiet humour,) is allegorical, typical, and 
of cloven tongue — its double sense frequently de- 
lighting to present the reverse side of its real mean- 
ing, to smile when most serious, to look grave when 
most facetiously disposed. Of this latter class are 
the comic poems of the ingenious Robert Montgo- 
mery, a humourist whose fine original vein has never 
been rightly appreciated by his contemporaries. He 
has been scoffed at by the profane for writing un- 
meaning nonsense, when that very nonsense had the 
ndost di)i in teres led and excellent moral aim , he has 


passed Tor a. quack, when he Dobly made his muse a 
martyr; he has been laughed at, when he should 
have been admired; he has been gravely admired 
whea his secret laughter should have found response 
in every inside. He has been extensively purchased; 
but he haa not been understood. 

In these stirring times when theologies are looking 
up, and the ribald tongues of fifty thousand sectarian 
pulpits wag wrathfully around the head of the Esta- 
blished Maternity; while she herself is suffering in- 
testine pains from dangerous wars, and the pure 
spirit of Religion is wandering and waiting in the 
distant fields; it behoves all those thrifty shepherds 
who are still disposed to multiply the goods of this 
world, and take up the burdens and vain pomps which 
others being less strong, may, peradventure, find too 
onerous, — it behoves such shepherds, we repeat, to 
look keenly through and beneath all these struggles 
and backslidings, and to watch over the movemcDls 
of wealthy congregations. 

It is not to be denied that with the vigorous 
elements which distinguish the spirit of the present 
age, are mingled many weaknesses and short-comings; 
that winding about its truthfulness there are many 
falsehoods and hypocrisies; that the battle for the 
right is but too frequently mixed up and confused 
with the battle for the wrong ; and that amidst so 
much that is high-minded and sincere, there is per- 



HOBEET mohtgomeby. 237 

haps still more that ia selfish and cuoniog, that is, in 
fact, not genuine but humbugeous. 

" The London Charivari," to which allusion has 
previously been made in Vol. I, page 280, comprises 
the three classes of humour described at the opening 
of this paper, and may also be said to have a wit and 
humour peculiar to itself. The application of these 
faculties, always liable to exert a powerful influence 
for good or evil, has been from the very first com- 
mencement of that periodical, devoled to the cause of 
justice, of good feeling, and of truth. The most 
"striking" characteristic of this "Punch" is his 
hatred and ridicule of all grave-faced pretences and 
charlatanery. Considering his very unscrupulous 
nature, it is remarkable how little there is of actual 
private personality in him. If he strikes at a man 
domestically, which is very rare, it is by no means on 
account of his quiet " hearth- stone," but of his 
public humbugeosily. Never before were bo many 
witty, humorous, and choice-spirited individuals 
amicably associated together for anything like so 
long a period ; and never before did so many perfectly 
free-spoken wits and humourists indulge their fancies 
and make their attacks with so good-natured a spirit, 
and without one spark of wanton mischief and 
malignity. It is a marked sign of good in the 
present age. 

In this same light, and to these same moral aims, — 


though ffUb a characteristic difference such as marks 
all original genius — do we regard the public character 
and works of the much-admired yet equally maligned 
Robert Montgomery. At some future time, and 
when his high purpose can no longer be injured by a 
discovery of its inner wheels and movements, springs 
and fine escapements — at such a period he may per- 
haps vouchsafe a key to all his great works; mean- 
time, however, in his defence, because we are unable 
to bear any longer tiie spectacle of so total a miEcon- 
ception of a man's virtues and talents in the public 
mind, we will offer a few elucidatory comments upon 
two of his larger productions. 

The poem of "Satan" is evidently the work, of a 
great free-thinker. Far be it from ua to use this 
much-abused and perverted expression in any but its 
true sense, with regard to Mr. Robert Montgomery. 
Freely he thinks of all spiritual and mundane things ; 
in fact, his freedom amounts toa singular degree of fa- 
miliarity with those Essences and Subjects concerning 
which nearly everybody else entertains too much awe, 
and doubt of themselves, to venture upon anything 
like proximity or circumambience. But though the 
thinking faculty of Mr. Robert Montgomery makes 
thus free, it is only within the bounds of the " Esta- 
blishment," as deBned in his Preface, though not 
necessarily governed in all other respects, — to use his 
own inimitable words, — by "the sternness of ada- 




mantine orthodosy,"" lu Bupport of the spiritual 
part of his treatment of his subject, and referring to 
the free-thinking of his hero (who is not only the 
Prince of Air, but the London Perambulator, as 
proved by this poem) Mr. Montgomery quotes the 
following from a high authority: — " Thus the Devil 
has undoubtedly a great degree of speculative know- 
ledge in divinity ; having been as it were, educated 
in the best divinity school in the universe," &c. He 
also quotes from the same author (Jonathan Ed- 
wards) that " it is evident he (the Devil) has a great 
speculative knowledge of the nature of experimental 
religion." These preliminary statements of the more 
enlarged view we should take of the Satanic mind, 
and its many unsuspected acquirements, together 
with much more which we cannot venture to quote, 
will be found in the Preface to the fourth edition of 
this accomplished Prince. 

Having stated the spiritual or " experimental " 
drift ; we have only now to point to the worldly ac- 
tivity or practical application, and we shall at once 
find a key to this sublimely humorous design, and 
its high moral purpose. This application we shall 
find in the covert parody of the " Devil's Walk" (the 
one which has been ascribed jointly to Porson and 
to Southey) which for the force and piquancy of its 
satire has rarely been surpassed. Accordingly, Mr. 


Robert Montgomery conaidere the hero of his poem. 
&a a teal, personal, and highly intellectual agent, 
walking about London — he distinctly alludes to Lon- 
don — BO that, to follow out this poet's excursion, we 
might meet Satan on 'Change, hear his voice on 
Waterloo Bridge, see him taking a jelly in the saloon 
of Drury Lane theatre, or seated demurely in a pew 
at Church, with a psalter stuck on his off-horn, Mr. 
Montgomery intimates and suggests all these sort of 
things, — nay, he directly describes many of the cir- 
cumstances. For instance, Satan goes to the play. 
To what part of the house is not said. His natural 
locality would of course be the pit, and, for this very 
reason, he would probably prefer the one shilling gal- 
lery; but as Mr. Montgomery clearly explains that 
bis hero went there on business — to collect materials 
for this very poem, which is written as a diabolico* 
theological and philosophical soliloquy — it is to be 
presumed that he was in the boxes. He thus de- 
scribes a few of his observations, and personal sen- 


Mnaic nnd Pomp Hair m 

ogliog BpiriUhed 

Around me ; beauties in 

their cload-lik 


Shine forth,— a acenie p 

rsdise, it glare 

reeling aenae 

Of flush'd enjapnent." 

I, Boot V, 
The comparison of a theatrical scene with a scene 

" UpoD ihs/orehtad of tliese feulesa timea 



in paradise, and made by one who had actually been 
in both places, would be more bold than reverent, in 
any other writer; nor are we by any means sare that 
Satan or his poet could show the slightest founda- 
tion for it. But we bow to their joint authority. He 
next describes the different classes of the audience. 
Some wish to mtmnt upon Shakspere's winga, and 
" win a flash" of his thought ; but the second, he 
says, are "a sensual tribe;" — 

*' CoDcmed to hear romHDtic harlots sing, 
On forms to buiqaet a laseivious gaze, 
While tha bright [jerfidy of wanton eyes 
Through brain and spirit darts delicious fii 

Well may this stern "spirit" feel it delicious, 
after the very different kind of flame to which he has 
been elsewhere accustomed. This is to write philo- 
sophy and history, moral satire and autobiography, 
all under one hii^hly humorous head. 

The main object of the poem of " Satan," how- 
ever ingeniously it may be covered up, is to work out 
the deep satire of the old proverb of the " Devil 
quoting Scripture;" in fact, he very ably defends in 
his Prefaces, the propriety of displaying Satan as a 
gieat preaching LL.I). in private, or a D,D. hypocrite 
in public. Let any one read his Prefaces — they 
musl see his fine aim. Hence, we shall discover in 
this sublime poem a succession of well-glossed blows 





and thrusts at all those clerical brethren 

who are not 


and governed in their duties anc 

efforts by 

"the sternness of adamantine orthodoxy 

■' It will. 

to any 


out, shows no quarter to Dissent or Ter- 

giversation; nor to any of the proud visions of New- 1 

fang led 

esa, which have of late exalted their dark | 


hove the horns of the average hu 

' Upon the/orchead of these fearleia times 
I know tha haugLlineaa tbat now eiuUs : 
Bat let tbfl modem in bis pride, bewue 1' 


Satan.bAy. 1 

Equally, in melodious cornopeean strains does he ] 


forth a wail over cornucopian 


Here are his own soft yet reproachful, 

sweet yet 


words — no German flute was 

ever more 


searching, nor, when based on an 


accompaniment, more confounding. 

" Parlalien morcies are forgollen things. 

But EipeclatioQ bath a grateful beart 

Hailing the Emila of promiBS from afar : 

Enjoyment dies into ingratitude," Slc. 


And presently afterwards in speaking of 

' haughty- 


England," he compares certain 

proud au- 



< A hell-bom feeliog sach as I would ancge. 

Of Mammon, that vile despot of [he eoal. 

Is fretted with amhitioD," See. 




Ahem I Really this is a very sad state of thingg, 
Amidst all this fine comic writing who can fail to see 
the sadness of the subtle truth that lurks beneath the 
assumed gravity. The hero of the poem playing the 
nurse to a juvenile compatriot (in the first line of the 
preceding quotation) is an equally dark and "pal- 
pable" hit at the very dangerous teachings of various 
branches of Dissent, and sections of the Church it- 
self; while the "Iiappy meekness" of those "con- 
tented minds" which are "fretted with ambition" 
quietly and quaintly slips in a reflection that must 
have caused the sounding-board of many a pulpit to 
tremble with the vibratory effluence of the Conscience 
beneath. Moreover, as Satan warms with his theme, 
he becomes yet more direct in his attack, though we 
are not quite snre at what denomination of the un- 
orthodox he levels his fork, — 

Some srnciouB, grand 


Ml BccompUah 


Each Kith 

B lilde kiD 


1 bis braiD, 

Who club 

ogether to 


the •rarld. 

And loves 

o mauy IbM Ihsj 

■are for noDO,' 


Such is the main-spring of the covered movement 
" capped and jewelled," which is discoverable in the 
great poom of " Satan." That there are many 
branch-movements and inferior wheels playing upon 
the complex circle of general lay society, ia equally 
apparent, even as was done in its prototype (the 
"Devil's Walk,") but we cannot give space to tlieir 
H 2 


examination. A few insulated passages, illustrative 
of poetical excellencies, of the opinion secretly en- 
tertained by the poet of himself, and of the character 
of the accomplished Prince, are all that can be at- 
tempted. Of the latter he finely says, — 

" Hia Mture icbb k whirlpool of deflirea, 
Aad might}' passioas. perilously mixed, 
Tliat with the darkneas of the demon world 
Had aomething of the Mght of IleaTen." 


With what graceful ingenuity does the poet seera 
to say so much in the first line just quoted, and yet 
say nothing ; because it is clear that desires, in a 
whirlpool of themselves, could not exist as any one 
definite desire. The line, therefore, is a terrific 
nothing. What follows, no doubt furnished Miltoa 
with the idea of his Satan, whose form had not yet 
- lost all its " original brightness; nor appeared less 
than archangel ruined." It is hence very evident that 
Milton, by the inspiration of his genius, foresaw 
what Robert Montgomery would say, and wisely 
availed himself of the poetic revelation. Montgo- 
mery's " Satan " is, nevertheless, disposed to be 
complimentary to Milton, who, he says, is, — 

■' Flttmiag with yiaions of elernal glare I" 

Ibid, h. ». 

The compliment has rather a professional lool 
but it should be remembered from whose mouth t 




proceeds. The same f^reat master of liglit and shade 

also favours us with the following portrait: — 

" Then mark the lijpocritB of pioua mould, 
For ever putting oa uDeaTthly mauds, 
And looking lectures witb Lis awful evea, &i:. 

Ot stemi}' painta some portiaiCure of 
But feels himself the model nbence h< 

We are upon dangerous ground, we know ; but it 
ia ever thus in dealing with great humorists. One 
never scarcely knows where to have them. He pro- 
ceeds in this strain: — 

" Meanwhile, 1 flutter the surpassing fool, 
Too metn for Tiilae, too polite for vice." 

This Prince is becoming personal, and we must 
therefore conclude with one more flash of his pen at 
those who, impelled "by frenzied glory," will ven- 
ture on "till dashed to ruin ;" and he then makes 
an apostrophe to the " Review of Departed Days" 
of poetry, — 

" Bf whom, BS beacon-light for lioiB unborn, 

The past might well have risen, — tiaat forgot 

The law of tetiibntion in thy love 

Of fame, and iidotatioa to ths dead. — 

A war ttwakoe 1— wSat poetry ii here " Sic. 

All that T> 

Ibid. b. i». 
, therefore, with reference tt 

^^^^ one ( 


Princely Preacher's prolonged soHloqiiy, is to give 
one specimen of the " poetry," as abstract art, of 

so very 

i — we had almost said — Serene Highni 
amiable does he ap|iear in these pages: — 

" Bo maj it ever ba ! lot ages gone, — 

Whence monumenlH, tj sad esparienoe piled, 
Slight o'er unheedful dajg a wumog trown, — 
Like buried lnmbBi, in Dlilivion sleep ; 
£iperieDce is the sternest foe of Lell." 

Ibid. b. iv. 

How novel a face does even the commonest proverb 
wear, when rouged and rabbit-pawed by genius ! 
The last line admirably conveys the intimation of 
what " a burnt child " both dreads and hates ; or, 
perhaps, it would rather infer that those who are 
burnt most become the most implacably hot. Our 
last quotation must be in illustration of the Gne 
" keeping " which exists in this poem as a work of 
art. Other poems seek to rise to a climax, now and 
then, and usually towards the close; but this very 
properly descends, and thoroughly illustrates " the 
art of sinking in poetry" described by Dean Swift. 
Let us observe bow, step by step, froni primitive 
elements to chaos, thence to the Satanic solitude, 
thence to a chorus of thunder-clouds, thence to an 
earthly commotion, thence (like the last revival of a 
dying candle) to nature's reel of anguish, and thence 
— to a small geographic familiarity. 

■ Ilov 

□ of the Elemeata, 


TiuB numicrj of clmoa, ia Lheir might 
Of Blorail — And bere, in mj Iodb awfulneas. 
White cverj cloud h thuader-bjuin rep«iU, 
Earth Ihrnbs, and nutuce in aODvuUian rMla, 
Faienell <o Englnnd ! " 

md. h. vi. 
This is a truly unique specimen of the bathetic, 
and does bis Unserene Profundity the most abysmal 
degree of credit. 

Impressed with the deepest admimtioa of his 
sublimity, and covert humour, we pass onwards, 
bowing, through his other works, and beneath their 
walls and towers of many editions, until we bow 
ourselves into the presence of Mr. Robert Montgo- 
mery's "Woman." As a poem, the subject is both 
human and divine ; but it has moreover a secret and 
occult purpose of the most magnanimous kind. 

Ostensibly this poem entitled "Woman" is a 
versified flattery, extending through upwards of three 
thousand three hundred lines, and it also abounds 
with sentiments of gallantry and of chivalry, which 
in these dull days of matter-of-fact courtship is really 
quite refreshing to meet with. One specimen will 
suffice: — 

" Nait Chivalry, heroic child, 

WitL brow erect, and features mild, 
Placed LoTe upon hia matcLleaa throne, 
For gall Entry to gnaid alone. 
Tben, woman I in that reign of heart. 
How peerleaa was thj magio part ! 


• • • 

And shall we, in a venal age, 
When love hath grown more coldly sage. 
With frigid laugh and frown decry 
The bright return of Chivalry 1 — 
The trumpet-music of the past. 
In tales of glory doom*d to last, — 
No longer must one echo stir 
The pulse of English character ? 

Woman, canto ii. 

But while the exoteric adulations of the fair^ and 
semblances of a yearning to restore the romance of 
ancient days of chivalry, with his suggestions for a 
new order of Church Militant, might lead one to con- 
fer upon his gallant Reverence the title of the Spiri- 
tual Quixote, there lurks beneath all this an esoteric 
design yet more magnanimous, and of still greater 
purity of self-devotion. Compared with this " the 
tales of glory doom'd to last" (let us observe his 
covert contempt of such glory in the expression of 
doomd) will be regarded as the mere toys and gilded 
brutalities of a rude age : nor shall we pay further 
attention to those bright external attractions of the 
fair, which, as this poet says, by their " ray of undis- 
cern'd control," — 

" Advanced above life's daily sphere. 
Disclosed her radiance, full and near ; 
And kindled for beclouded man 
The light that only woman can." 

Woman, c. ii. 


The very bad grammar by which the last couplet 
is beclouded, (and which indeed is bo marked a fea- 
ture in this, and other poems oT the same inspired 
penman) will do much to prove that Mr. Robert 
Montgomery always has ulterior designs far above 
and beyond all the materiality of mere philological 
expression, and that his muse is not amenable to any 
of its known laws and requisitions. 

The secret purpose, then, which is concealed with 
so much subtle hnmonr, like a bright serpent, be- 
neath all the superincumbent rnbbish-couplets of 
this wonderful work of "Woman" is nothing less 
than an attempt to bring about a thorough reforma- 
tion in Art, by means of a thorough purification of 
the public taste in poetry. This reformation and this 
purification he seeks to accomplish by the converse 
of the usually received notions as to the required 
process. Observing that to give the public the most 
pure and refined poetical productions does not an- 
swer the desired end, because they are not read, or, 
when read, only appreciated by the few, the bigh- 
aoaring, disinterested, and original mind of Robert 
Montgomery has alighted upon theideaof opening the 
eyes of the public by a master-stroke of genius ; vii. 
by giving it a production which it would read, and of 
a kind which should display the strongest possible 
contrast to all genuine poetry, so that the public 
should suddenly exclaim, " What is this darkness t 
H 5 


— and where is the li;;ht? — what intensely Blrocioua 
trash do we read? — andwheie is the most unlike thing 
to this; for our souls are confounded and athiist 1" 

Accordingly, with a magnanimity only to be clas- 
sified with that of the devout martyrs, and of the 
Roman heroes who devoted themselves for the good 
of their country, this great Virtue has devoted itself 
— not to an honourable fate, but, more than that, to 
the utmost disgrace for the good of his literature! 
Knowing well what he was about, and fully |)re- 
pared for all the odium and contempt thai such a 
proceeding must reasonably be expected to entail, 
he launched upon the public, in this long poem of 
" Woman," a cargo of such unquestionable nonsense, 
such common-place vapidities of adulation, such high 
pretensions of imbecility, such ungrammatical flou- 
i and touches of the bathetic, and such a pro- 
. droning sing-song, uninspired even by the 
abortive life of one vigorous absurdity, — a produc- 
tion, in fine, which must be pronounced, in its parts, 
and as a whole, to be without parallel throughout 
the entire range of modern literature. 

But the result has been quite as wonderful 
as the poem. Mr. Montgomery must console his 
bosom by the proud consciousness of having meant 
to act a noble part. With much regret we have 
to record the total failure of his esoteric scheme. 
We have described what he intended, and we have 


honestly, and pretty fully, expressed our opinion of 
how lie carried out his design in tbe poem of 
" Woman." But it was misunderstood. For the 
public (or at least an imraenBe number of readers) 
not perceiving his drift, and not feeling the force of 
contrast, as the strategical martyr had intended, 
actually received the thing in sober earnest — as a 
poem ! Its elaborate stupidity and matchless non- 
seDse were all thrown away ! The effort to exhaust 
with a mixture of folly and emptiness, was de- 
feated. The labour to disgust had been in vain — 
and Robert Montgomery, with " Woman " under 
his arm, was admitted into the public Temple of the 
Muses, and again crowned as ' a Poet !' 

But not atone did the greatly humorous, though 
defeated Strategist enter this public Temple. Behind 
him came a crowd shouting his praises, and around 
him was a crowd, shouting in praise of his poetry ; 
and in front of him was a crowd who bore placards, 
showing that his poems had gone through more than 
four or five editions for every one edition of the works 
of such fellows as Wordsworth, or Coleridge, or 
Tennyson. But among this latter crowd there also 
appeared Mr. Punch! This well-known personage 
had a very large mirror under his short cloak. 
Courteously pointing his toe, as he approached the 
sacred Penman, he eloquently expressed his admira- 
tion of the man, who, after waving his white cambric 


handkerchief from a pulpit till the tears ran in rivu- 
lets all roundy should yet have discovered another 
equally successful trick of oratory under circum- 
stances where it was impossible to display the ring 
upon his little finger. Mr. Punch then coughed 
slightly — gave his mirror a rounding polish with the 
corner of his cloak, and addressing the crowds as the 
Public, he turned the mirror towards them, and po- 
litely requested to be informed what peculiar impres- 
sion upon their thoughts they derived from the intel- 
ligent object they contemplated therein? 

;:'^ ^'\. '■■:• 


*' Always there stood before him, night and daj. 
Of wayward yary-colored drcurastance 
The imperisliable presences serene, 
Colossal, without form, or sense, or sound ; 
Dim shadows but unwanlng presences 
Four-fac6d to four comers of the sky : 
And yet again, three shadows, fronting one. 
One forward, one respectant, three but one ; 
And yet again, again and evermore. 
For the two first were not, but only seemed, 
One shadow in the midst of a great light, 
One reflex flrom eternity on time. 
One mighty countenance of perfect calm, 
Awful with most invariable eyes." 

TBNNYaoN. The Mystic. 

** Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. 
Then all things are at risk. There is not a piece of science, but its flank 
may be turned to-morrow ; there is not any literary reputation, nor the 
so-called eternal names of fame, that may not be revised and con- 
demned. • • • • • He claps wings to the sides of all the solid 
old lumber of the world." 

EuBSSOiT. Essay on Circles. 



AccoHDiNG to the view of the microcosmus, what is 
said of the world itself, may be said of every indi- 
vidual ill it; and what is said of the individual, may 
be predicated of the world. Now, the individual 
mind has been compared to a prisoner in a dark 
room, or in a room which would be dark but for the 
windows of the same, meaning the senses, in a figure; 
nothing being in the mind without the mediation of 
the senses, as Locke held, — " except," as Leibnitz 
acutely added in modification, " the mind itself." 
Thus is it with the individual, and thus with the 
general humanity. Wereit notfortheSomethingfrom 
without, and the Something within, which are both 
Revelations, we should sit on the floorof our dark dun- 
geon, between its close stifling walls, gnawing vainly 
with the teeth of the mind, at the chains we wear. 
But conclusions which genius has leapt successfully, 
imd science proved, have come to aid us. It is well 



to talk of tlie progress of the public mind, 
public mind, — that is, the average intelligence of the 
many, — never does make progress, except by imbib- 
ing great principles from great men, which, after long 
and frequent reiteration, become part of the moral 
§en8e of a people. The educators are the true and 
only movers. Progress implies the most active of 
enei^ies, such as genius is, such as science is ; and 
general progress implies, and indeed essentially con- 
Eists of, individual progresses, men of genius, and 
other good teachers, working. A Ulysses must 
pass with the first goat, — call him Nobody, or by hia 
right name. And to return to our first figure, — what 
the senses are to the individual mind, men of genius 
are to the general mind. Scantily assigned by Pro- 
vidence fornecessary ends, one original thinker strikes 
a window out here, and another there ; wielding the 
mailet sharply, and leaving it to others to fashion 
grooves and frames, and complete advantage into 

That Mr. Carlyle is one of the men of geniue thus 
referred to, and that he has knocked out his window 
from the blind wall of his century, we may add 
without any fear of contradiction. We may say, too, 
that it is a window to the east; and that some men 
complain of a certain bleakness in the wind which 
enters at it, when they should rather congratulate 
themselves and him on the aspect of the new sun 



beheld through it, the orient hope of which he haa , 
so discovered to their eyes. And let ub take occa- i 
sion to observe here, and to hear io memory through i 
every subsequent remark we may be called upon to \ 
make, that it has not been his object to discover to | 
us any specific prospect — not the mountain to the 
right, nor the oak-wood to the left, nor the river 
whlcli runs down between, — but the bvk, which ren- 
ders all these visible. 

When " the most thinking people " had, at the 
sound of all sorts of steam-engines, sufficiently wor- 
shipped that idol of utilitarianism which Jeremy 
Benthaoi, the king, had set up, and which Thomas 
Cailyle, the transcend entalist, and many others, who 
never read a page of Bentham's works, have resolved 
to narrow to their own misconceptions of this phi- 
losopher, — the voice of a prophet was heard praying 
three times a day, with magnanimous reiteration, 
towards Jerusalem,*— towards old Jerusalem, be it 
observed ; and also towards the place of sun-rising 
for ultimate generations. And the voice spoke a 
strange language, — nearly as strange as Bentbam's 
own, and as susceptible of translation into English, 
Not Enfflish by any means, the critics said it spoke ; 
nor even German, nor Greek ; although partaking 
considerably more of the two last than of English ; but 
more of Saxon than either, we humbly beg to add. 
Yet if the grammanans and public teachers could 


not measure it out to pass as classic English, after 
the measure of Swift or Addison, or even of Bacou 
and Miltou, — if new words sprang gauntly in it from 
savage derivatives, and rushed together in outlandish 
CO mbi nations, — if the collocation was distortion, wan- 
dering wildly up and down, — if the comments were 
everywhere in a heap, hke the "pots and pans" 
of Bassano, classic or not, English or not ; it was 
certainly a true language, ^a language " fit/ioVuii' 
ivBp^iriov;'" the Bigni6cant ai'ticulation of a living 
BOul : God's breath was in the vowels of it. And 
the clashing of these harsh compounds at last drew 
the bees into assembly, each murmuring liis honey- 
dream. And the hearers who stood longest to listen, 
became sensible of a still grave music issuing like 
smoke from the clefts of the rock. If it was not 
" style " and " classicism," it was something better ; 
it was sonl-language. There was a divinity at the 
shaping of these rough-hewn periods. 

We dwell the longer upon the construction of 
Mr. Carlyte's sentences, because of him it is pre- 
eminently true, that the speech is the man. All 
powerful writei-s will leave, more or less, the pressure 
of their individuality on the medium of their commu- 
nication with the public. Even the idiomatic writers, 
who trust their thoughts to a customary or conven- 
tional phraseology, and thus attain to a recognized 
level perfection in the medium, at the expense of 




being less instantly incisive and expressive (accord- 
ing to an obvious social analogy) have each an 
individual aspect. But the individuality of this 
writer is strongly pronounced. It is graven — like the 
Queen's arrow on the poker and tongs of her national 
prisons — upon the meanest word of hia utterance. 
He uses no moulds in his modelling, as you may see 
by the impression of his thumb-nail upon the clay. 
He tbrows his truth with so much vehemence, that 
the print of the palm of his hand is left on it. Letno 
man scoff at the language of Carlyle — for if it forma 
part of his idiosyncracy, hia idiosyncracy forms part 
of his truth ; — and let no man say that we recom- 
mend Carlylisms — for it is obvious, from our very 
ii^ument, that, in the mouth of an imitator, they 
would unlearn their uses, and be conventional as 
Addison, or a mere chaos of capitals, and compounds, 
and broken language. 

We have named Carlyle in connection with Ben- 
tham, and we believe that you will find in " your 
philosophy," no belter antithesis for one, than is the 
other. There is as much resemblance between them 
as is necessary for antithetic unlikeness. Each 
headed a great movement among thinking men ; and 
each made a language for himself to speak with; 
and neither of them originated what they taught. 
BenUiam's work was done by systematizing; Cat^ 
lyle's, by reviving and reiterating. And as from the 




I begiuning of the woild, the two great principles of 
matter and spirit have combated, — whether in man's 
personaHty, between the fiesh and the soul ; or in 
his speculativeness, between the practical and the 
ideal ; or in his mental expression, between science 
and poetry, — Bentham and Carlyle assumed to lead 
the double van on opposite sides. Bentham gave an 
impulse to the material energies of his age, of the 
Bturt' of which he was himself made, — while Carlyle 
threw himself before the crushing chariots, not in 
sacrifice, but deprecation ; " Go aside — there is a 
spirit even in the wheels ! " In brief, and to take up 
that classification of virtues made by Proclus and 
the later Platonists, — Bentham headed such as 
were TioAinicaf, Carlyle exalts that which is reXeimK^, 
venerant and religious virtue. 

Every reader may not be acquainted, as every 
thinker should, with the Essays of R. W. Emerson, 
of Concord, Massachussetts. He is a follower of 
Mr. Carlyle, and in the true spirit ; that is, no 
imitator, but a worker out of his own thoughts. To 
one of the English editions of this volume, Mr. 
Carlyle has written a short Preface, in which the 
following gaunt and ghastly, grotesque and graphic 
passage occurs ; and which, moreover, is character- 
istic and to our immediate point. 

'* In a word, while so manj BeatlmmiBms, Soclsliams, Fouirier- 
ana,pr((fe»ing to hire do.soqI, go staggering; and lowing like mon- 



atroua moon- c aires, the product of a heaTj-ladea moon'Stmck age; 
and in this same baleful ' inelfth hour of the nigbt' even galvtmic 
Puaejiains, as we eaj, are risible, and daaciaga of tba abeeted daad, 
— shall DOt any Toiae of a lisiog man be wokomo to us, even becoase 
il is alire." 

That the disciples of Bentham, and Robert Owen 
and Fourtier should be accused of professing to have 
no soul, because their main object has been to 
ameliorate the bodily condition of mankind ; or that 
an indifference to poetry and the fine arts, except as 
light amusements, to be taken alternately with gym- 
nastics and foot-ball, should be construed into a 
denial of tlie existence of such things, we do not 
consider fair dealing. True, they all think of first 
providing for the body; and looking around at the 
enonnous amount of human suffering from physical 
causes, it is no great wonder thai they chiefly devote 
their efforts to that amelioration. A man who is 
starving is not in a fit slate for poetry, nor even for 
prayer. Neither is a man fit for prayer, who is 
diseased, or ragged, or unclean — except the one 
prayer for that very amelioration which the abused 
philosophers of the body seek to obtain for him. With 
respect, however, to the disciples of Bentham, Owen, 
and Fourrier, it is no wonder that he should be at 
utter variance. No great amount of love " is lost be- 
tween them." Not that Carlyle reads or knows much 
of their systems ; and not that they read or know any- 
thing of his writings. In these natural antipathies 

^™^ 26; 


&U philosophers are in an equal state of unreason- 
ableness. Or shall we rather call it wisdom, 
follow the strong instincts of nature, without any 
prevaricating reasonings upon the in-felt fact, Car- 
lyie could make little good out of their systems, if 
he read tliem ; and they could make nothing at all of 
his writings. The opposite parties might force them- 
selves to meet gravely, with hard lines of the efforts 
of understanding in their faces, and all manner of 
professions of dispassionate investigation and mutual 
iove of truth — and they would clash foreheads at 
the first step, and part in fury ! " The Body is the 
first thing to be helped!" cry the Benthamites, 
Owenites, Fourrierites, — loudly echoed by Lord 
Ellenborough and the Bishop of London — " Get 
more Soul ! " cries Carlyle, " and help yourselvea ! " 

But the wants of the body will win the day — the 
movements of the present age show that plainly. 
The immortal soul can well aflbrd to wait till its case 
is repaired. The death-groans of humanity must 
first be humanely silenced. More Soul, do we crave 
for the world? The world has long had a sphere-full 
of unused Sou] in it, before Christ, and since. If 
Plato and Socrates, and Michael Angelo and Raphael, 
and Shakspere and Milton, and Handel and Haydn, 
and all the great poets, philosophers, and music- 
magicians, that have left their Souls among us, have 
still rendered us no protection against starvation, or 


1, to I 


the disease and damage of the senses and brain by 
reason of want of food, in God's name let us now 
think a littie of the Body — the mortal case and 
medium of his Image. What should we think of a 
philosopher who went to one of our manufacturing 
towns where the operativea work from sixteen to 
eighteen hours a-day, and are nevertheless badly 
clothed, dirty, and without sufficient food, — and to 
wliom the philosoplier, as a remedial measure, sug- 
gested that they should get more soul 1 Many at 
this hour are slowly, or rapidly, dying from want. 
Can we tell them to think of their souls? No — give 
the fire some more fuel, and then expect more light, 
and the warmth of an aspiring flame. That these 
two extremes of body and soul philosophy, may, as 
Emerson declares, involve one and the same principle, 
viz., the welfare and progress of mankind, may be 
true; but at present the poor principle is " between 
two stools " — or between the horns of a dilemma not 
inaptly represented by Mr. Carlyle's misapplied 
figure of the staggering moon-calf. 

We have observed that Carlyle is not an originator; 
and although he is a man of genius and original 
mind, and although he has knocked out his window 
in the wall of his century — and we know it, — we 
must repeat that, in a strict sense, he is not an 
originator. Perhaps our figure of the window might 
have been more correctly stated as the re-opening of 


an old window, long bricked up or encrusted over, — 
■ and probably thig mao of a strong mallet, and suffi- 
cient right hand, thought the recovery of the old 
window, a better and more glorious achievement, 
jthan the making of many new windows, His office 
certainly is not to " exchange new lamps for old 
ones." His quality of a " gold-reviver" is the 
nearest to a novel acquirement. He tells us what we 
' knew, but had forgotten, or refused to remember; 
and his reiterations startle and astonish us like in- 
formations. We " have soula," he tells us. Who 
doubted it in the nineteenth century; yet who 
thought of it in the roar of the steam-engine? He 
tells us that work is every man's duty. Who doubted 
that among the factory-masters ? — or among the 
charity-children, when spelling from the catechism 
of the national church, that they will " do their duty 
in the state of life to which it shall please God to 
call them?" Yet how deep and like a new sound, 
do the words " soul," " work," " duty," strike down 
upon the flashing anvils of the age, till the whole 
age vibrates ! And again he tells us, " Have 
faith." Why, did we not know that we must have 
"faith?" Is there a religious teacher in the land 
who does not repeat from God's revelation, year 
by year, day by day — Have faith? or is there a 
quack in the land who does not call to his assistance 
the enei^y of "faith?" And again — "Truth is a 


good thing." Is that new ? Is it not written in the A 
theories of the moralist, aod of the child? — yes, and 
in the moral code of Parliament men, and other 
honourable gentlemen, side by side with bribery and 
corruption, and the " melancholy necessity " of the 
duellist's pistol and twelve paces? Yet we thrill at 
the words, as if some new thunder of divine instrac 
tioD ruffled the starry air, — as if an angel's foot 
sounded down it, step by step, coming with a 

Thus it is obvious that Mr. Carlyle is not an ori- 
ginator, but arenewer, although his medium is highly 
original ; and it remains to us to recognise that he 
is none tiie less important teacher on that account, 
and that there was none the less necessity for his 
teaching. "The great fire-heart," as he calls it, of 
human nature may burn too long without stirring; 
burn inwardly, cake outwardly, and sink deeply into 
its own ashes: and, to emancipate the flame clearly 
and brightly, it is necessary to stir it up strongly from 
the lowest bar. To do this, by whatever form of 
creation and illustration, ia the aim and end of all 
poetry of a high order, — this, — to resume human 
nature from its beginning, and return to first prin- 
ciples of thought and first elements of feeling ; this, 
— to dissolve from eye and ear the film of habit and 
convention, and open a free passage for beauty and 
truth, to gush in upon unencrusted perceptive facul- 


ties: for poetry like religion ahould make a man 
a child again in purity aad unadulterated percep- 
[ No poet yesrns more earnestly to make the inner 
I life shine out, than does Carlyle. No poet regrets 
more sorrowfully, with a look across the crowded 
and crushing intellects of the woi'ld, — that the dust 
rising up from men's energies, should have blinded 
them to the brightness of their instincts, — and that 
understanding (according to the German view) should 
takeprecedenceof a yet more spiritualized faculty. He 
is reproached with not being practical, "iVIr. Carlyle," 
they say, "is not practical." But he is practical 
for many intents of the inner life, and teaches well 
the Doing of Being. " What would he make of us ?" 
say the complainers, " He reproaches us with the 
necessities of the age, he taunts us with the very 
progress of time, his requirements are so impossible 
that they make us despair of the republic." And 
this is true. If we were to give him a sceptre, and 
cry, " Rule over us," nothing could exceed the dumb, 
motionless, confounded figure he would stand : his 
first words, on recovering himself, would be, "Ye 
have souls! work — believe." He would not know what 
else to think, or say for us, and not at all what to 
do with us. He would pluck, absently, at the sceptre, 
for the wool of the fillet to which his hands were 
accustomed ; for he is no king, except in his own 



peculiar sense of a prophet and priest-king, — and a 
vague prophet, be it understood. His recurrence to 
first principles and elements of action, is in fact, so 
constant and passionate, that his attention is not free 
for the development of actions. The hand is the 
gnomon by which he judges of the soul ; and little 
cares he for the hand otherwise than as a spirit-index. 
He will not wash your hands for you, be sure, how- 
ever he may moralise on their blackness. Whether 
he writes history, or philosophy, or criticism, his per- 
petual appeal is to those common elements of huma- 
nity which it is his object to cast into relief and light. 
His work on the French Revolution is a great poem 
with this same object; — a return upon the life of 
humanity, and an eliciting of the pure material and 
initial element of life, out of the fire and torment of 
it. The work has fitly been called graphical and 
picturesque ; but it is so hy force of being philoso- 
phical and poetical. For instance, where the writer 
says that " Marat was in a cradle like the rest of 
us," it is no touch of rhetoricj though it may seem 
BO, but a resumption of the philosophy of the whole 
work. Life suggests to him the cradle, the grave, . 
and eternity, with scarce a step between. In that', 
brief interval he sometimes exhorts that you should 
work ; and sometimes it would appear as if he 
exhorted you not to work at all, but to sit still and 
I ,think. lie is dazzled by the continual contemplatioo 


seating its tiny ' 
is of Infinity, Why, such a 

amiiJst the 

man {not speak- 

it irreverently) is not fit to live. He is only fit 

je where his soul most aims at. He sinks our 

irporal condilion, with all ils wants, and says, ' 

inaDi" A dead-man with a promoted spirit se 

iftur only chance in this philosophy. 

Carlyle has a great power of re-production, 
can brin;T back his man from the grave of years, not 
like a ghost, but with all his vital flesh as well as hivj 
tlioughts about him. The reproduced man thinksi-.l 
feels, and acts like himself at his most characteristic 
climax — and the next instant the Magician pitches 
him into Eternity, saying, "It all comes to that." 
But his power over the man, while he lasts, is entire, 
and the individual is almost always dealt with as in 
time-present. His scenes of by-gone years, are i 
acted now, before your eyes. By contrast CarlyliJ 
often displays truth ; from the assimilations in thd 
world, he wrings the product of the differences; ( 
by that masterly method of individualising persoiu 
which is remarkable in bis historical writing, 
reader sometimes attains what Carlyle himself seem 
to abhor, viz., a broad generalization of principlet 
His great forte and chief practice is individualization,! 
And when he casts his living heart into an old I 
monk's diary, and, with the full warm gradual throbi | 
cowled Ilea 


a glory ; the reason is not, as some digquieted readers 
have hinted, that Mr. Carlyle regrets ibe cloistral ages 
and defunct superBtitions, — the reason ia not, that 
Mr. Carlyle is too poetical to be philosophical, but 
that he is so poetical as to be philosophical in essence 
when treating of things. The reason is, that Mr. Car- 
lyle recognizes, in a manner that no mere historian 
ever does, but as the true poet always will do, — the 
same human nature through every cycle of individual 
and social existence. He is a poet also, by his insight 
into the activity of moral causes working through 
the intellectual agencies of the mind. He is also a 
poet in the mode. He conducts his argument with 
no philosophical arrangements and marshalling of 
" for and against ;" his paragraphs come and go as 
they please. He proceeds,like a poet, rather by ana- 
logy and subtle association than by uses of logic. His 
illustrations not only illustrate, but bear a part in the 
reasoning; — the images standing out, like grand and 
beautiful caryatides, to sustain the heights of the 
argument. Of his language we have spoken. Some- 
what too slow, broken up, and involved for eloquence, 
and too individual to be classical, it is yet the 
language of a gifted painter and poet, the colour of 
whose soul eats itself into the words. And magniB- 
cent are the splendours they display, even as the 
glooms. Equally apt are they for the sad liveries of 
pain and distress, and certainly for the rich motleys of 


the huinoroua ^rotesc|ue. His pictures and conjur- 
iiigs-up of tliis latter kind — chiefly from his oiigioal 
faculty, and method of producing the thing alive and 
before you, but &iao by contrast with his usual 
thoughtful, ardent, and exacting style — are inexpres- 
sibly ludicrous. His Latin epitapli on Count Zah- 
darui, in "Sartor Reaartus," and his account of the 
courtier whose lower habiliments were stuffed with 
bran, to look broad and fashionable, but who unfor- 
tuaately sat down upon a nail, are exquisite. These 
ihaigs are often additionally ludicrous from his giving 
the actors a dry, historical shape, while the scene 
itaelfis utterly absurd and extravagant, but amidst 
which the narrator seldom appears to move a muscle 
of bis face. It is by reason of this humorous 
dryness that we sometimes do not know if he would 
really have us laugh at the thing. 

Moreover, it must be stated, that the Prophet of 
the Circle hath displayed a cloven tongue ! — and per- 
adventure the sincerity of his mode of expression in 
several works may at times have been questionable. 
The most orthodox dogmatists have often applauded 
his sayings about a Church, when it has been plain 
to the initiated readers of his books that he meant no 
such temple as that, but some untithed field, with a 
soul in iL Id like manner, in bis remarks on toler- 
ance in his " Hero-worship," he seems to guard 
himself strongly against imputations of latitudina- 



rianisni ; whereby the highly orthodox commend hitn 
as very proper, and the lalitudinarians laugh in their 
sleeves — he does it so well. It is the same in poH- 
tics. Radicalism is scoffed at; and the next page 
lets loose a sweeping radical principle, involving per- 
haps no small destructiveness for its attainment. 
On the other side, Tories are gratified by his decla- 
rations of reverence for old things, though they may 
be placed, in order to be the better seen, upon the 
top of Vesuvius; and the more assimilative and 
shapely Conservative smileB to hear him speak aloud 
for the conservation of all things which are good and 
excellent. The book on " Past and Present," how- 
ever, settles most of these doubts. It is all over 
with him among the high church party ; and he 
laughs as he thinks. But have any of the other 
parlies got him ? Not so : he was born to be an in- 
dependent Thinker; it is his true mission ; it is tlie 
best thing he cun do, and we have no doubt but it is 
just the thing he will do. 

We think " Sartor Uesartus" the finest of Mr. 
Carlyle's works in conception, and as a whole. In 
execution he is always great ; and for graphic vigour 
and quantity of suggestive thought, matchless ; but 
the idea, in this book, of uncovering the world — 
taking off all the clothss—the cloaks and outsides — 
is admirable. His finest work, as matter of political 
philosophy, is undoubtedly his " Past and Present." 



In this work he is no longer the philoso|)her of the 
circle. He allows the world a chance. 

The incentive to progression in the great family 
of mankind, is usually considered to be the desire for 
happiness, or the prospect of bettering our condition 
by struggling onward to a given point: but the 
necessity of progression, as well as the incentive, are 
perhaps equally attributable to another cause. It 
may be that Dissatisfaction is the gieat mover; and 
that this feeling is implanted as a restless agent to 
act for ever upon us, so as to urge us onward for ever 
in our ascending cycles of being. This we should 
conceive to be Mr. Carlyle"s impression. He does 
not say so, we believe; nor perhaps does he decidedly 
think so; nevertheless we should say the Philo- 
sophy of Dissatisfaction formed a principal element 
in his many-sided unsystematic view of the struggh 
of mortality. 

The book entitled "Chartism" was a recogniti( 
of this principle of dissatisfaction, as manifested by 
the violent mental and physical forces of a number 
of enraged sufferers. But we pass through the book 
as through a journey of many ways and many objects, 
brilliantly illuminated and pictured in every direction, 
but without arriving at any clear conclusion, and 
without gathering any fresh information on the main 
subject, during the progress. By his not very ch 
argument about "might" and "right," he has 


bv I 


abled any despot to show some sort of reasoning for 
any violent act. 

His grand remedial proposals for all the evils of 
the country, by "Universal Education" and "Ge- 
neral Emigration," are rather an evasion of Chartism 
and its causes; for the Chartists say, "We have 
enough education to see the injustice of people 
being starved in a land of plenty ; and as for emigra- 
tion, we do not choose to go. Go yourselves." 

"Past and Present" evidences a perception of 
greater wants than these Education and Emigration 

f " True, nil turaa on your Readj Iteckanei being moderRtelf coriGct, 
—being not ineuppoilsblj incorrect ! A Ready Reckoner which hai 
led 10 dUlinct entriea in your Ledger such es theae ; — ' Creditor, Bn 
Eaglieli people, by fifteen hundred years of good Labour ; ^niiliebtiir 
to lodging in encbaeled Poor- Law Uaatilles : Creditor by conquering 
the largest Empire the Sun ever saw ; and Debtor to Donnthitigiani and 
■' ImpoEeible,'' written on all depetlmeiita of the goTernmeal thereof: 
Creditor by mounlBinB of gold ingota earned ; and Debtor to the Bread 
purcbaseable by them:' me* Ready -Reckoner, metbiaks, is begin- 
niug lo be suspect ; nay, is ceasing, and baa ceased, to be auapect I 
Such Ready- Reckoner is a. Solecism in Easlcbeap ; and mast, what- 
ever be the preas of business, and will and sball be rectified a little ! 
BuainesB can go DDnD longer with it." 

Past and Preteal, p. 330. 

The " History of the French Revolution," ia 
iODsidered by most people to be Mr, Carlyle's greatest 
work ; not as a history, we presume, nor because it is 



in three volumes, but chiefly becduae it is thought to 
contain a Diore abundant and varied display of his 
powers than any of his olher works. We can offer 
no remarks about it so good as those we shall extract 
from an article written by Jo^epb Mazzini," which 
we consider to be one of the most profound, masterly. 
Had earnest-minded critical essays that was ever 
written. We should aUo add, that it is full of that 
admiration and respect wbicli are due to a writer of 
Mr. Carlyle'a genius and character. 

" By Ibnt Revolution the spirit of eiDKDci|)»tion became incarnste 
in B people, und gave lialtJe ; and the battle naa long, bloody, de- 
BtructiTB, full of great and cruel things, of Titan-like plueutieB nod 
nth io rem en la. • • * * Ha»e eitinut gonetauous uolliing mora 
to yield ub than an ematianofpily 1 * » • • 'jijy hiatoiian has 

■ noble and great mission ; but it ib not by making us weep ovei all 
lliat falls ; it is not by placing: before us, fragment by fragment, detail 
bj detail, the mere material fact, the succession of crises 1>y which 
this world of the dead, with their immediate aSects, have passed 
iway -, — above all, it is not hj dragging forth, at e^ery inalant, from 
the luidal of this collectiTe and comijlex world, tbs single wretched 
and feeble indiTiduul, end setting him in presence of the profound 

■ myalery of time,' before ■ unfathomable darkness,' to leirify him 
with tbe enigma of eiisteoce — it is ooi so that this missiun can be 
fulfilled. * • * * Before our eyes, as before hia, in the 
uudst of H kind of phastaamagorial vortex, capable of giving 
the strongest head a dizziness, pass in speedy flight iho defunct 
heroes of the poem. What are they going to dol We ktiow 
not : the poet eiplaiua them not, but be Ismoiits over them all, 
whoever they mny be. What have they done '. Where are they 





goiagi We know not, but wbalevsr they ma j hare done, time hta 
now devoured tbem, and oawerd they pssa over the alipperj gore 
oce after anntlier, roiling- into nigtf, tbe great night of Goethe, Ilia 
hutlomlesa and uaniele^ ebjsaj and the voice of the poet is heard 
oryiog to the loiterers, ' Reat not— continue not — forvrard to Iby 
doom '.' When all are gone, when esiiapeij, es from the nightmare, 
outof the midst of the turmoil, you look around to catch some trace of 
their psasage, to see if the/ have left aagbtbeliind them that cunfurnitih 
the Boluiiooof the enigma, -^ you hare only a vaciEum, I'Lree words 
alone remain as the summary of their history — the Bastille — tlia Con- 
st! tutiu a— the Guidotinti. The ConBtilution, (he object of every 
effort, is placed between B prison and a scaffold. ■ • * • And 
is this all 1 There ia another thing. Twenty-nine millions of beinga 
rose not as one man, and tbe half of tbe population of Europe shook 
not at their appeal, for a word, a sbadow, and empty formula. * * 
" • He haa done no more than give us tableaux, wonderful la 

nothing i 


without I 

bearing, Hia book is tbe French Revolutiou illustrated — illuatraied 
by the hand of a maslcr, we know, but one from whom we sipected a 
different labour. • • • ■ The eternal cursue et recurtua inen- 
orably devours ideas, creeds, daring, and devotedness. The Infinite 
lakes, to him, tbe form of Mihilation. It has a glance of pity for every 
act of entbuaiasm, a smile, slamped with acapticism, for every act of 
g;reat devoceduess lo ideas. General! ties are odious to it; detail ia 
it* favourila occnpaliDn, and it there amuiies itself as if seeking to 
lay at rest its inconsolable cares." 

We add the following, as being equally applicable 
to certain peculiarities in other works of Mr. Cavljle. 

" He has lost tbe sentiment of humnn grandeur ; be bos found bim- 
■elf placed between tbe inlinito and the individual, catchiug at every 
instant from tl.ia contrast, a kind of terror of the former, and of pity, 
nothing more iban pity, for tbe latter. So, having no higher value to 
give to the idea, he has been driven, In order not to exhaust himself 



at the letj outset, to give id much iLe moTe to the impretaion : be 
becomes piuire. ETerjrtbing of ■ nsture lo Btrike viridlj on ths 
uniea has be«n seized b; bim, and he has handed down the image to 
biareadera. • « ■ • 

" It ia to GoetUe, too much rerered by Mr. Carljle, that we oiva 
thia tin^e of ironj Rbich ill this book often eu|ierveae8 * * iho^e 
tni ta of niocliery ■ * above all, Llial dinposition lo cruali maa br 
cDHtrBstiDg bim with the Infitiite. Aa if il were not jiteaiselj fiom 
the coDaciouiDeaa of thia lafiniteeiiviroDing him, and that jet prarents 
bim not frcm acting, that man is great i — as if the etemit}' that ia be- 
fore us, after ua, end arouad ua. were ool also within ns." 

This unfair method of dealing with hunianity, this 
contitiual disposition to place man at a disadvantage 
of the Dioat extreme kintl, viz., by comparison with 
space and time, and the miraculous round of things, 
constitutes a prominent featuie in the philosophy of 
dissatisfaction. It is always sure of its blow, and its 
humiliating superiority ; for who can stand before it ? 
We raigiit quote to Mr. Carlyle the words addressed 
to Mephistopheles — " Seems nothing ever right to 
you on earth ?" One cannot imagine anything done 
by human bands which would be likely to give Mr. 
Carlyle much satisfaction, lie would be pretty sure 
to say, at beat, " Work on, and we shall see what 
else will come of it !" Or, more probably, to quote 
again from " Faust," he would remind us that 
"Man must err, till he has ceased to struggle." 
Hence be would have us sit quietly and be silent. 
He applauds inactivity and silence ; but be also 


applauds work : he says maa must work, and ex- 
horts every one to do his utmost. These cootradic- 
tioiiB, however, have a central meaning, which we 
shall attempt to explain. The dissatisfaction, the 
□nh ope fulness, and the melancholy that pervade his 
works are attributable to the same causes. 

For the practical dissatisfaction exhibited in Mr. 
Carlyle's works, we would offer the following eluci- 
dation. We think that he so continually negatives 
the value of work, denies the use and good of doing 
things, and smiles bitterly or laughs outright at 
human endeavour, because he considers that so 
long as the Competitive system — the much applauded 
" fair competition" — be the rule of social working 
life, instead of Co-operation, there can be made no 
actual step in advance to a better condition of things. 
So long as one class, whether in trade, politics, 
art, or literature, is always striving to oppose, pull 
back, counteract, or plunder the other, no per- 
manent good can supervene. The greatest remedial 
measure which is sure to let in an overflowing stream 
of good, he laughs at, — because, after all the long 
labours of the contest for it, he sees in imagination 
a number of side-trenches cut to let it ofl' before 
it reaches the assumed destination, or means taken 
to let it off after its arrival, by other channels. By 
the terms " hero " and " heroic," he means true 
I wisdom and moral strength; and the only hope he 


aecB fortliis world, is that one man tihoulJ rule o^ 
each country, euiiaeut for his heroic worih, because 
chosen by a people who have at length become them- 
gelves not un-heroic, and therefore capable of knowini 
true greatiiesB, and of choosing their greatest man.-i 
So much for hU practical and political dissalisfaq 
tion. For his contradictory tone concerning all worl 
as unavailing and yet a necessity, let him answer for 

'' TbuB, lika a God-created, firB-breatlimg, apiril-bost, we emarge 
from the Insae ; haste stomifullf across the aBtonisbed eartli; then 
jiluuga again itito Uia iDUue. Earlli's iDoimlaiDa are levelled, aad Ler 
seaa filled Up, in our passage i cau the earth, nhloh ia hut dead and 
B vision, resist Gpirile wbich have reulicy und aie olive T On the hardest 
Hdamatit, some root print of ua is stamped in; the last Rear of the host 
will read traces of the sdrl lent Van. Bui whence? O, heaven, wbitbei! 
Sense knuwa not ; Faitli knows cat ; only that it ia ibiough Mysterj 
lo Mjstery, fiom God to God. 


ir UtOe Life 

A familiar illustration sometimes helps a philoso- 
phical difficulty. The following story, which is highly 
characteristic of the parties, and is nevertlieless of 
a kind that may be told without violating the trust- 
fulness of private intercourse, will very well answer 
our present purpose. Leigh Hunt and Carlyle were 
once present among a small party of equally well- 
known men. It chanced that the conversation rested 
with these two — both first-rate talkers, and the others 


Bat well pleased to listen. Leigh Hunt liad saidsoine- 
tbing about the Islands of the Blest, or El Dorado, 
or the Milleaiiium, and was Sowing on in his 
bright and hopeful way, when Carlyle dropt some 
heavy tree-trunk across Hunt's pleasant stream, and 
banked it up with philosophical doubts and ob- 
jections at every interval of the speaker's joyous 
progress. Bui the unmitigated Hunt never ceased 
his overflowing anticipations, nor the saturnine Car- 
lyle his infinite demurs to those finite flourishings. 
The hsteners laughed and applauded by turns; and 
had now fairly pitted them against each other, aa 
the philosopher of Hopefulness und of the Unhopeful. 
The contest continued with all that ready wit and 
philosophy, that mixture of pleasantry and profun- 
liity, that extensive knowledge of books and charac- 
ter, with their ready application in argument or 
illustration, '[and that perfect ease and good-nature, 
which distinguiiih each of these men. The oppo- 
nents were so well matched that it was quite clear 
the contest would never come to an end. But the ' 
night was far advanced, and the parly broke up. 
They all sallied forth j and leaving the close room, 
the candles and the arguments behind them, sud- 
denly found themselves in presence of a most bril- | 
liant star-light night. They all looked up. " Now," , 
thought Hunt, " Carlyle 's done for!— he can have \ 
no answer to that!" "There!" shouted Hunt, 




*' look up there! look at that glorious harmony, that 
sings with infinite voices an eternal song of hope in 
the soul of man." Carlyle looked up. They all 
remained silent to hear what he would say. They 
began to think he was silenced at last — he was a 
mortal man. But out of that silence came a few 
low-toned words, in a broad Scotch accent. And 
who, on earth, could have anticipated what the voice 

said ? " Eh ! it's a«a(f sight !" Hunt sat down on 

a stone step. They all laughed — then looked very 
thoughtful. Had the finite measured itself with 
infinity, instead of surrendering itself up to the in- 
fluence 1 Again they laughed — then bade each other 
good night, and betook themselves homeward with 
slow and serious pace. There might be some reason 
for sadness, too. That brilliant firmament probably 
contained infinite worlds, each full of struggling and 
suffering beiugs — of heings who had to die — for life 
in the stars implies that those bright worlds should 
also be full of graves ; but all that life, like ours, 
knowing not whence it came, nor whither it goeth, 
and the brilliant Universe in its great Movement 
having, perhaps, no more certain knowledge of itself, 
nor of its ultimate destination, than hath one of the 
suffering specks that compose this small spot we 




" Hand in hand at wisdom't iltfind, 
Beautj with Truth I ttriTe to Join, 
And grave Assent with glad Applause i 
To paint the story of the soul. 
And Plato's vision to controul 
B7 Yerulamian laws ] ** 


** But as we, in our isle imprisoned, 
Where cattle only, and divers dogs are bred. 
The precious unicorns, strange monsters caH,*— • 
So thought he sweets strange, that had none at all." 

DosTNB. Elegy 4. 


Great thoughts, like great deeds, need 

No trumpet* •••••• 

But set thyself about it, as the sea 
About eartli, lashing at it day and night ; 
And leave the stamp of thine own soul in it. 
As thorough as the fossil flower in clay." 

Additional Seene to " Festus." 

** Yea, copyists shall die, spark out and out. 
Minds which Ck)mbine and Make, alone can tell 
The bearings and the working^s of all things 
In and upon each other." 




The uni'epvessed vigour of imagination, — and the ^ 
graceful display of philosophical thought; tiie splen- 
dour of great and original imagery, — and the level ] 
J dignity of the operations of the understanding; the 
■ passion of poetry, — and the sound seuae of poetry ; 
are proposed to be discussed in this essay. The calm I 
philosophy of poetry, in its addresses to the under- I 
standing and the domestic affections, now holds the 1 
ascendancy; but as the fi;esh and energetic spirit of I 
the present age advances, a contest is certain to ' 
take place in the fields of Literature on the above 
questions. The sooner, iherefoi-e, the battle is fought 
out, the better; and to this end, the poetical an- 
tagonisms shall at once be brought into collision. | 
Several of the parties being personal friends, they J 
will not be so much surprised at this summary J 
cry " to arms," as that very lai^e portion of the I 

public who fancy that the periods of poetry are all 
over with us in England. 

A peculiar principle, and a peculiar style, are the 
first things to be considered in this business. If the 
absence of enthusiasm, or the total subjugation of 
it by the iutelleci ; and if the absence of a power to 
call up imagery, or the levelling down of imagery to 
a barren regularity, be now considered as the true 
principle and style for the greatest poetry, then all 
our great poets of bygone ages, have written in 
error, and must no longer be accounted great, except 
in the light of barbarians, even as Pope and Dr. 
Johnson regarded tiie men of the Elizabethan age. 
But this will never be admitted again, for the public 
mind has outgrown all such teaching. The attempt, 
therefore, seems to be to bring back the same im- 
pression or opinion, without verbally stating it, — 
and, by making an exception in favour of Shakspere, 
to merge all the glories of his poetical contempo- 
raries in a generalized idea of extravagance and 

Most readers will recollect that Wordsworth has 
prefixed to his beautiful poem, "To the Daisy," 
some lines from Withers, which either originated 
or encouraged in him the principle by which the 
descriptive part of hia poetry is so peculiarly in- 
fluenced : — 

" Tbat from eveiy Ebiogl saw 
I could BDiDB iuntiucCioa draw, 


And itiae ple& 
TbroDgh the m 

to tbe height, 

It ohJBOl'B aight," &c. 

The dispositioD to misuse aa extreme principle has 
for some time been perceptible. The great poet 
Wordstvorth has said how much to his mind was "the 
meanest flower that blows." No doubt but it was 
much to him; and no doubt there is nothing mean, 
essentially, in nature. But when a number of other 
poets say — " Well, and the meanest flower is just as 
much to vsP' — we cannot believe that they are sincere, 
for the original impression ia not theirs, and no one, 
by mere imitation, can have " thoughts that lie too 
deep for tears." The universal application of a senti- 
ment, cannot imply a universal sensibiiity. (It should 
here be understood that we are not at present allud- 
ing to either of the gentlemen at the head of this 
paper, but speaking in general terms.) But out of 
this same "i'oHowing" has been derivefi a notion 
that the more mean and insignificant a subject, or ob- 
ject is in itself, the more fit and worthy is the oppor- 
tunity for a poet to make it great by uplifting and 
surrounding it with his own personal feelings and 
thoughts. To all this we say — " Leave the great 
poet his originality." His best teachings should be 
received, but his experience should not he imitated or 
assumed. Nor will the principle bear it any further than 
he baa carried it without manifest injury to our litera- 


ture. With Burns the daisy was a " wee, modest, 
crimBon-tippit flower ;" — with Wordsworth it has "a 
functionApoatolical." Thesmall celandine, or common 
pilewort, Wordsworth calls a " Prophet of delight 
and mirth." That in his enlarged and peculiar sense 
of these things, the terms are admissible, we very well 
know; but we should not be prompt to respect any 
other poet who declared that to him the daisy was like 
any apostle, or that he could discover anything pro- 
phetic of mirth in the small celandine! It was so, to 
Wordsworth : it is not so to many of his followers. 

The steady, classical, and perspicuous style of the 
accomplished author of " Philip van Arlevelde" is 
much to be admired. He, and a few others, have 
rightly understood the true meaning of simplicity, 
as matter of style. The word, however, has become 
injurious by the notion that has been created from 
it, and very much by Mr. Taylor's assistance, that all 
splendour of imagery is mere redundancy; and this 
notion has hence become a sort of excuse for the 
pride of natural barrenness. 

Now, for our own individual taste, however, we 
freely declare that we like something more " audible 
and full of vent," and are not without apprehension 
that an exclusive devotion to the idea of simplicity 
may gradually induce baldness into our poetical 
hterature. There is coming among us a cant about 
simplicity, as though the means of greatness were 



the end. " Nothing (aa an ingenious gentleman 
recently said in a monthly periodical) can be more 
simple than ' Give roe a pot of beer!' — yet nohody 
would pretend that this waa grandeur." To Bay this 
would be like the assertion oF Lord Peter, in excuse 
for feeding his poor brothers upon nothing but bread. 
" Bread (said Lord Peler) is the staff of life. Bread 
comprises within itself the essence of beef, and 
mutton, and veal, and partridge, and pheasant, and 
woodcock, and grouse, and quail, and phim-pudding, 
and custard." This will not do; the beauty and the 
power of passion and imagination, simply expressed, 
is the great point to aim at ; and yet by no means to 
the exclusion of such images and phrases as sponta- 
neously arise out of those great elements, and are in 
such cases their most natural interpreters. For a 
demonstration of the above position, if not thought 
self-evident, we can only refer to the practice of the 
greatest epic, dramatic, and lyric poets. 

" So then," it may be said, " you are for the choice 
of great subjects, and a great style ; and not for the 
meanest things, and simplicity ? " That would be the 
taunting form of the proposition, and would convey 
a false inference besides. Not in that mode are 
principles of Art to be discussed. We are for an 
unexclusive choice in good subjects, and we are for a 
suitable style to each. But we are anxious to see 
poets creale, and design subjects in which their own 


individuality shall be melted ; and that it should be 
well understood that true simplicity does not refer to 
puerilities or a barren style, but, primilive emotiuns, 
and a clear and concise form of expression. 

The reader will perhaps recollect, or turn to, the 
remarks (in Vol. 11. Art. II.) on Mr. Macaulay's 
position, that to write, or even to enjoy poetry, of the 
highest class, invoUes a certain degree of " uneound- 
nesB of mind." We hope it has there been shown 
how much the notion amounts to; and that no sougs 
of " battle, murder, and sudden death," can be 
called the perfection of right reason, merely because 
the slayers are ancient Romans, Macaulay is a man 
of undoubtedly great and most sound understanding 
— but "how about these Lays? — for he cannot be 
sound and unsound ? 

In Mr. Taylor's preface to " Philip van Artevelde," 
he propounds his philosophy of poetry with that 
clearness of expression and gentleman-like courtesy 
in differing, which are characteristic of him. Yet 
we think that besides certain indefensible opinions 
and assertions, he has not fully met the question. 
With his strictures on Lord Byron we agree in the 
main. Byron was certainly a better constructor, and 
a more practical and generally intelligible artist than 
Shelley, though his imagination was far inferior to 
that of Shelley. Still, it cannot be rightly inferred 
because Shelley's imagination carried him away. 



often into regions where his genius could neither 
act, nor whence it couid return to earth, but 
was lost in the bright Immensity, that therefore 
poets ought to make all imagination subservient to 
the reasoning faculty, and what is called " good 
sense," or that it should be reduced to the condition of 
a balanced level, and its natural images be shorn and 
shaven to baldness. " Suppose I were to say," says 
Dr. Eurney, "Well — I have been to Italy — seen the 
Venus, the Apollo, and many fine things, — but after 
all, give me a good, plain, barber's bluck." 

Mr. Henry Taylor would no doubt say that he did 
not mean this; but we fear his argument would 
amount to sometbiog like it, and at any rate is calcu- 
lated to produce such an impression, and inculcate a 
hard dry taste in the public mind. Mr. Taylor argues 
for poets obtaining a fine balance of the faculties 
(devoutly to be desired, of course), and regards "good 
sense" as "one of the most e«sen(ja/ constituents of 
genius" — which it undoubtedly is, philosophically 
understood; and undoubtedly is no/, in the conven- 
tional meaning of the term, as he uses it. These 
arguments, therefore, must rather be regarded as 
pretexts for depressing the tone of all modern poetry, 
moderating passion at the very outset, and stunting 
the growth of imagination by never suffering it to 
rise beyond the calm level of reason and common 




There must be something peculiarly undraraatiel 
the mind that could conceive and execule a dramati^ 
subject in so lengthy a form as to comprise the same 
number of lines as six plays, each of the ordinary 
length. In this philosophical poem, we may find a 
prolonged illustration of Mr. Taylor's principles of 
poetry and the drama. A dramatic poet, without 
passion; — what does that amount to? A romantic 
poet, without any romance in him ; — what does that 
amount to ? A contemplative poet, without a heaven 
of ideality above his head ; — what does that amount 
to? A rhythmical writer, and teacher, who denies 
the distinct element of poetry as poetry. 

Yet a distinct element it assuredly has. Poetry, 
though made up of other things, is yet as much an 
entire thing as any of the substantive faculties of the 
mind, each of which is made up of the other faculties. 
For, there is no such thing as pure reason, pure 
imagination, pure judgment ; — but each helps the 
other, and of necessity. Still, we admit a distinct 
faculty of each. In like manner do we claim a dis- 
tinct existence for poetry. 

Should we think it fitting that our legislators de- 
hvered statesmanlike and eloquent orations in Parlia- 
ment with a musical accompaniment; or our philo- 
sophers lectured in recitative ? The arguments of 
Mr. Taylor lead us directly to the question of why 
he does not write in prose? Certainly " Philip van 


Artevelde" would have been as dramatic and roman- 
tic in prose as in its present form. Its rhythm appears 
unnecessary, and he feels it. After writing an historical 
romance in about ten thousand lines of verse, which 
ought to have been three volumes of elegant prose, 
he then composes a Preface to justify the proceeding. 
He says, " My critical views have rather resulted 
from composition than directed it." Finding he could 
rise no higher, he strives to show that rising higher 
would argue a loss "of the equipoise of reason." 

It may now be asked, — Are there any signs of , 
imaginative vitality among living authors, indepen- . 
dent of those old established reputations, the owners ' 
whereof are reposing upon their laurels? — are there . 
any new men with whom abstract power and beauty 
are a passion, and who posses9 the requisite faculties 
for their development ? Are there, also, any signs of 
efforts, on their part, to revive or create a taste in the 
public for the higher classes of composition ? — and if 
so, with what degree and prospect of success ? These 
are surely very interesting questions — some of them 
easily answered, others open to considerable difS- 
cultiea and incertitude. 

Whatever may be the struggles — foolishly called ' 
aZZ-absorbing — which are now transpiring in politics, 
in theology, and in the commercial world ; and how- 
ever convinced each of the different parties may be 
that nothing else can go right— nor that, indeed, 
o 2 


any thing else can be properly attended to — till their 
pttrljcular cause is settled as they wish, — it is mani- 
fesi that there is quite as great a struggle coming on 
in literature, and in that very department which is 
most neglected by the public — we mean in poetry. 
The public does not see this; and as poetry is at 
present so unpopular, the critics do not see the 
struggle; but let anybody look at the persevering 
announcements of new poems in advertisements, and 
read a few of the poems of some half-dozen of the 
best, and then the truth of our assertion will become 
apparent. The energetic spirit at work in various 
minds, and with different kinds and degrees of power, 
but still at work, not only without the slightest out- 
ward encouragements, but with all manner of opposi- 
tion in their path, and with the certain expenditure of 
time and worldly means upon their "losing game," 
must absolutely possess something genuine in its 
elements, and in its hopeful and indefatigable con- 

Imaginative and impassioned poetry has not been 
so uncommon among us as may have been thought. 
Those whom "it concerned" in neariy every instance 
discovered it, and welcomed it. Besides those who 
are already recognized, there have been, and are, 
others. Several of these little known, or unknown, 
works we will mention. It is a service of abstract 
love ; and we trust it will be received, not in a resent- 



ful, but a kindly spirit, by those who may now 
bear of them for the first time. One of the least 
known, published as long since as 1824, under the 
unpromising title of " Joseph and his Brethren," was 
full of the elements of true poetry, — in passion, ima- 
gination, and in thoughts resulting from reason, expe- 
rience, and understanding. It also displayed great 
descriptive powers. The resemblance of the author's 
mind to that of P. J. Bailey, the author of "Festus," 
is extraordinary. As the writings of this latter poet 
are at present but little known, (his work was only 
published four years since, and a true poet has little 
chance under ten or twelve,) we ought perhaps to in- 
troduce him at once in an extract : — 

'* We lire in deeds, not jeaiB ; in tbougUts, oat breatbg ,- 
In feeliogs, not In figures oii b dial. 
We should caunl liiue by heBrt-tbrobs. lie moM lives 
Wbo tbink9 most ; feels the Dobleat ; seta the best. 
And be whose heart bests quickest lives tLe longest : 

1 one hour more than ia years do some 
Whose fat blood sleeps ss it slips along (heir veins. 
Life is but a means unto an end ; Ihst end, 
' Beginning, mean and end to all things— God. 
>e dead have all the glory of the world." 

Fettia, p. 6J.3. 

We should at once decline to argue with anybody 
who denied the poetry in the above passage. Tlie 
philosophy of the poem of " Festus " is to show the 
great ministry of evil as a purifier. But the spirit 


itself mourns, not knowing its purpose. In the fol- 
lowing, the Spirit of Evil speaks : — 

'* The arrow knoweth not its end and aim. 
And I keep rushing, ruining along, 
Like a great river rich with dead men's souls. 
For if I knew I might rejoice ; and that 
To me hy nature is forbidden. I know 
Nor J07 nor sorrow ; but a changeless tone 
Of sadness, like the night-wind*s, is the strain 
Of what I have of feeling." Fesfus, p. 26. 

This poem abounds with equally fine passages, 
and in nearly every page. Such perfect instances of 
contrast are the minds of Mr. Henry Taylor, and of 
the author of '* Festus," that you cannot open the 
works of either, scarcely at any one page, which 
does not furnish a striking illustration of the passion 
of true poetry on the one hand, and the philosophical 
sense, and statesman-like self-possession of verse 
which should have been prose, on the other. 

Here is a passage from the ^' Additional Scene to 
Festus " on love, which Mr. Taylor will no doubt 
regard as the total loss of " the equipoise of reason," 
as indeed it usually is, we suspect. 

" FestliS* It is therefore that I love thee : for, that when 
The fiery perfection of the world, 
The sun, shall be a shadow, and burnt out, 
There is an impulse towards eternity 
Raised by this moment's love." 

Instead of entering into any useless arguments on 




this point, we will at once give a love-scene ftom Mr. 
Taylor's work. 

Let U9 take an illustration of " reason " and 
" passion," as the two stand opposed in Mr. Tay- 
lor's mind. We will extract a portion of the scene 
in which Artevelde has, with much intreaty and 
many flattering protestations, won the consent of 
Elena to devote herself to him ; — 


■' Tell me, Bwest Elena, 

May lu 

ot hope, or ratbeT can I bope. 

That for 

audi brief tind bounded apace oft 

Aa are n 

y daya on eartb, jou'U yield your 

To lo™ 

me living, ond (o mourn me dead.' 

Elena is altogether a creature of impulse and 
emotion, — an Italian, of great beauty and of high 
birth, but of wounded affection and blighted fame. 
She loves Artevelde passionately, and his " propo- 
sals" (the usual worldly term suits welt here) affect 
her deeply. As he presses her to give him up her 
heart, she replies ; — 

I cannot give you wbat you've liad so long ; 
Nor need I lall you what you knotr so well. 
I must be gone." 

and again ; — 

Ob ! .^rletelde, for God's love lot me go !" 
She leaves him with these words. The sequel 


provGfl that her love was deep and intense. She lives 
with him till the battle in which he was killed. She 
finds hiB body among the slain, kneels by it, embraces 
it, is discovered in this state, and when a French 
knight attempts to defend her from the charge of 
having been the paramour of the dead hero, she 
starts to her feet with the words, — 

" Thou liest, I was lis ponmiDur ;" 

thus glorying in her devotion. She revenges the 
insults offered to bim, as he lies dead, by stabbing a 
man to the heart, and is herself killed in her resist- 
ance to a separation from his body. This closing 
scene is very ineffectively executed, and the situation 
being too strong for Mr. Taylor, he has painted it 
coarsely, and with an effect of bombast, the result of 
artificiality striving to supply the want of passion ; 
but it is detailed here to show that Elena had a 
passion for Artevelde. 

How then, to revert to their previous life, did he, 

cool and self-possessed, comport himself, when she, 

agitated with conflicting emotions, left him with the 

words, "Oh, Artevelde, for God's love let me go!" 

" Artevelde (after a pause) The night is fsr adTaaced upon 

And but for that couglomerated ma^a 

Of clojd with ragged edgea, like h maaad 

Or Mack pme-foreBt on a mountHin's top, 

Wherein the lightlies ambuahed, dawn were near, — 

Yea, I have aailed haff a gumnfr^t night. 


THE 1 

rTHOii OP " FESTD8." 297 

Was it well spent I Stteeea^fhiUy it teas. 
How little flattering is a wGiniui'H love !— 
Worlb (0 Ibe heart, coiDe bow it maj, a tvorld ; 
Worth to men's measures of their pwb deserts, 
\f leeighed in wiidam's balance, merely nothing." 

So that the pure gift of feeling which is worth a 
world to man's heart, is worth nothing in comparison 
with a much wiser thing — hia vain glory I Re- 
covering himself, therefore, as quickly as he can, he 
calls one of his officers — enters upon business — and 
orders two men to be hanged ! 

Here then we find placed before us passion and 
reason ; or, at least, Mr. Taylor's idea of passion and 
reason. The latter he exalts in his theory ; the former 
he condemns as selfish and as vanity. Which is 
here the more selfish? Passion gives all, even to 
life itself. Reason wins all, and sneers at it. In the 
world's estimation this self-possessed reason is of 
course the most " respectable ;" but which stands 
purest in the eye of God? 

Several poems of the higher class of imaginative 
composition have appeared during the last ten years. 
In allusion to the learned and versatile author of 
the " Judgment of the Flood," and the " Descent 
into Hell," we could hardly do better than quote a 
I coupletfrom the American poet, Cornelius Mathews — 

" Thy benrt- galea, iiiigiity,open eiiher way. — 
Coiae they to feast, or go tbey forth to pray." 

The " Record of the Pyramids," by J. E. Reade, 
o 6 


W 288 

I is another of those works in which the author has 

I chosen a great subject, and had a high design in 

his mind. The execution in this case is unequal to 
the conception, owing to the preservation of a cer- 
tain philosophic calm, under circumstances when 
nothing but passion could have carried through such 
stupendous actions as are described, or induced full 
faith in the reader. But the respect and admiration 
due to an author who has always manifested such 
high and pure aims in art, ought always to be gladly 

While treating of works of design, we should not 
be deterred from submitting a few remarks concerning 
"Orion" (using the same privilege as Mr, Taylor, 
and other authors, in their Introductions and Pre- 
faces), but want of apace warns us to pass on to the 
works of others, which it is our duty to discuss in 

" Vivia Perpetua," by Sarah Flower Adams, is an 
example of an exalted subject, worthily wrought 
out, clear in design, skilful in construction. The 
characters are well drawn; the style a true exam- 
ple of simplicity. The ideas are more characterized 
by sweetness and pure religious emotion than by 
abstract imagination, either of beauty or power. Yet 
the power and beauty of impassioned reason (we 
commend the expression to Mr. Taylor's especial 
attention) are never absent, being personified in the 


principal character. Some of the situatioas ia which 
Vivia is placed, are highly dramatic. The following 
fine extract shows the noble Roman lady renouncing 
faith in the gods of her country. 


PEnpETni al an allar bamittg b^ore a tlatue of Ihe god. 
Lo I whflto a11 trembling, I ha»e Inell and [iray'd ; 
•Where rair and sacrifice, nl morn and eve, 
Siirouded in incense dim, haTa risen to appease 
The wrath, great Jove, of thy once dreaded thonder,— 
Up to tlie might of thy majestic brows. 


r, thus 1 


I am iiD longer wDrsbipper of thine 1 
Witness cha firm farewell tbeae aledfaat eyes 
For ever 'grata upon thy marble front ; 

That on Ibiae altar set for eretmore 

A firm renouDcing sea}— I am a CliriBtian ! 

Where are thy Ughtniogs 1 — where thine awful thunder ^ 

Melted from out thy grasp by love and peace I 

The shadowB blaoken, and the altar-fiame 
Troubles them into motion. God of .tone. 
Tor Ihe last lime, farewell !" 

VivIa Perpetaa. Act II. So. *. 

The character of Vivia Perpetua in the hands of 
her regenerator from the honoured dust of by-gone 
ages, stands dramatically entire and intact ; but she 
has also by suggestion a spiritual connexion with all 
those who, in any age, struggle towards the light. 



proclaiuiiDg the truth that is in them, and suffer with 
her a martyrdom m the scorn and injuries of the 
world. It is a poem for the future, as well as the 
past. It is a great subject, worthily executed, al- 
though it would probably bear coneiderable abbre- 

Mr. Taylor's acquaintance with the poetry of his 
time appears to be either very limited, or else we 
must understand him to denounce all poetry except 
that which is adapted to his own peculiar nature and 
laste. He actually concludes his observations on 
Lord Byron, which are sufficiently disparaging, by 
the following statement : — " Nor can it be said that 
anything better, or indeed anything half so good, 
has been subsequently produced. The poetry of the 
day, whilst it is greatly inferior in quahty, continues 
to be like his in kind!" And tliis, with Alfred 
Tennyson alive in the world, at whom, indeed, the 
rest of the paragraph seems to point directly. We 
would also commend to Mr. Taylor's discomposed 
attention the poems of " Paracelsus" and of " Festus," 
were it only that he might endeavour to discover the 
likeness to Lord Byron. They are as unlike, by the 
presence of the finer qualities of imagination, as 
"Philip van Arteveld" is unlike by the absence of 

Whatever greatness has originated in Wordsworth's 
mind from his habit of refusing " to share any glory 

TffB AUTHOR OP " PBflTns." 

with his Bubject " by the systematic selection of 
things devoid of much obvious interest in themselves, 
and, as he often declares, on account of their mean- 
ness, to the eye, or to the general impressions of man- 
kind, it is much to be doubted if the adoption of this 
principle hy others will not lead them downwards in 
the scale of enthusiasm. It may tend to throw them 
exclusively upon their individualities, which may not 
inaptly be represented by a paraphrase of a well- 
known couplet, — 

" M; Thougbt is great because tlie object's mean : 
Then 'twould be greBter wbjb no object seen." 

We are fully aware how open every argument of 
this kind will be to misrepresentation. Nevertheless 
we shall speak it out, and trust to having justice in 
the long run. It is such poems as Wordsworth's 
" Laodamia," — the scriptural grandeur of simplicity 
in " Michael," — the high-wrought fervours of his 
immortal "Ode," and not his illustrations of "the 
meanest objects," that all lovers of poetry so deeply 
admire, and that his disciples should regard as stars 
to guide tliem. 

It is much to be lamented by all those who are 
seriously interested in woiks of art, that the power of 
conception should by no means necessarily include 
the power of design and construction; nor do even 
these always insure a worthily executive hand. A 
singular example of great capacities in execution with 



a deplorable inability to conceive and build up a 
fabric, was exhibited some few years since, in a half- 
epic, half-lyrical poem, privately circulated, entitled. 
" Ernest, or Political Regeneration," which was 
reviewed in one of the leading quarterlies. A passage 
from it will be of good application to some remarks 
previously made with reference to the inseparable 
nature of iniaginaiion from all poems of large scope, 
and from poetry itself, which is a radiant Pasa ioB 
no less than an art : — 

" The gloriOQS 
While jel CI 

lliey watch bi 

I, Ihi 


le atone 
cliild ; 
ia Ibrone ! 

miglty Bphi 


TbroDgh bountI!«s9 space Biid countless ;ein, 

Aud be do tb list tbeir muaic still. 

And ever ontcard as they roll, 

}Ie cbeers tbem uitb bis quiclieDtug ray." 

Of the subject of " Festus," we have already 
spoken. TJie build of its design is so obviously taken 
from Goethe's " Faust," whatever differences may 
also exist, that we can but regard it as so far un- 
worthy of the striking originality of the materials 
of passion, thought, and imagination, comprised in its 
structure. The execution breathes throughout a ful- 
ness of power. That the work often runs wild, is 

admissible ; and besides wilTuI redundancies, it also 
has many violations of taste. 

But, however great a conception may be, however 
splendid the imagination, the modern artist can never 
be too earnestly exhorted to think well of his design, 
and the construction in all its parts. Why should be 
fail, as so many do,in these things t Let us endeavour, 
in a few concluding words, to make our meaning clear 
to all whom it may concern. 

There burns in the elements of certain natures, in 
the secret wells of their being, the deep sources where 
dwelleth the soul, a yearning towards some vaster 
region than the world which surrounds them, and an 
aspiration which would cleave its crystalline walls 
and soar away towards illimitable heavens, unknown 
ec3tacies,and the eternal mysteries of Divinity. They 
feel this yearning, this aspiration, communicating 
itself to the very temperature and current of their 
blond ; it stings them to the quick of inward being; 
it breaks out in drops upon the forehead, and rilU 
down this poor inadequate, corporeal frame. They 
have mighty thoughts and deep; the deep thoughts 
often cross each other, and re-cross in their tumultuous 
lights and shades, till the man is vanquished by the 
over-forces of his own mind : they see mighty phan- 
tasies and shapes; and the vision and the image rule 
over the man. Does he dream? No, he wakes; he J 
has awakened to more things than his fellows. 



lie ni»d, or of intellect unsound? Not so; for 4 
sees clearly and knows that his my&tery is bat some 
excess in llie common mystery of all life, and that 
lie is but a ti-oubled human creature ; a frame-work 
troublt'd by some rebounding and imprisoned spirit 
within, that seeks for freedom in the illimitable air 
and in the illimitable light, not as a mere wild voyage 
to regions where be would be altogether strange and 
confounded, but as though by a sense of birth-right 
in these intolerable desires. But Time moves on — the 
wheels of the years pass over the head and face 
turned Etar-viRrd, — and the man finds that he will 
assuredly be, some day, old. lie is but where be was 
when he first commenced this upward-looking, these 
aKpirations to infinity. His thoughts now slowly 
recoil and revolve inwardly, and his visions gather 
closer round him. He seeks a sublime result 
for that within, which is denied to him from 
without. He places the images of his mind 
in order, even as a man before the death of his mor- 
tality arrangeth his house ; and finally he is no longer 
vanquished by his thoughts, but fixes and rules over 
the vision and the dream. Here then he finds some 
solace for his yearnings; he no longer seeks to dis- 
perse himself, but to collect ; no longer to revel in 
the arms of bright and unattainable desires, but to 
build. And the condition of this man's mind is that 
of Creative Passion. 



But to the store-house of the world, and to the 
things of worth for man's largest use and benefit, 
his soul's sake and body's sake, of what value is 
this creative passion 1 Can it take us up into the 
blessed air beside it, or help us to ride nitb it 
triumphant upon the triumphant winds? Or can it 
come down to us on earth, and if so, with what 
benefit to those who need help? How shall we 
perceive and feel it? How know it, how take it to 
heart and use it, as an incentive to hope, a refuge for 
sorrow, or an influence to elevate, and a medium to 
bring good tidings to mankind ? Of what value to 
us shall be a palace of mighty voices, and echoes 
from mightier worlds, if we have no fair entrance 
porch, or if, having entered, we cannot distinguish 
the passages and step-flights from the pillars and the 
walls, nor the right shape of anything, nor the clear 
interpretation of any voice or echo ? 

Out of these wild imaginations, these ungoverned 
and formless phantasies, these outrages to common 
sense, which heated brains call genius or inspiration, 
we must seek to free ourselves. Should we not call 
in the aid of calm reason ? Must we not command 
all these passionate emotions and imaginings by 
erecting a glacier in the midst, at the summit of 
which Sound Sense shall sit upon his judgment 
throne ? 



There site Sound Sense upon his throne J He is 
at the earae altitude as those fantastic dreams and 
fiery emotions which he is to govern. Yet a little 
while he sits ; not haughtily, but with a sober pride. 
And behold ! — his throne is sinking — it surely is 
sinking! — the crowned Perfection is sinking lower 
and lower — the glacier is dissolving at the base — the 
passions are cruelly hot — the summit of his glacier 
has now dropt flat — his grave long face gapes wide, 
and out of that widening dismay a grey mist issues, 
amidst which that very miscalculating presumption 
is difl'used and lost. 

Are we again upon earth? We are safely there, 
though the descending mist is there also. Nay, but 
Sound Sense is a good fellow when upon earth. Let 
us all be reconciled. For out of the mist we now 
see a man emerge — an actual, living piece of hu- 
manity. He is a, Working Man, and may help us in 
this matter. 

He hath a rough beard, and a strong, well- 
knit, supple body; a large organic forehead, and 
a steady eye. In one hand he holds a chisel, in the 
other a lump of clay. A modeller and a mason, a 
designer and a builder is this working man. He 
would speak to us. Shall we hear hira? Or shall 
he be dumb, and go on with his own work ? Will 
the Spirit of the Age listen to an unknown, un- 

ITJTHOB op "fB8TU8." 

laurelled labourer ? Well, — let him say what he 

" The first thing for the making of a house, is the 
definite impulse to have a house made. The second 
thing, is to have imagination to conceive of the de- 
sign. And the third thing, is to have a good work- 
man's hand," 

All this is common, plain-spoken stuff*, which every 
body knew before. Why should a man who makes 
things, presume to tell us how things are made? 
But let him proceed for the chance of something 

" The delintte impulse, is a. passion for that thing; 
the imagination ia the power to think the shape; and 
the hand is the power to make the shape of the 
thought. You must hsten, or depart. For now I 
will go on. The passion of the heart commands the 
passion of the brain, when the heart is of the right 
strength as meant by God for a natural, true man ; 
and in those heart-felt emotions doth God's voice 
speak — the only inspiration of genius, because a 
revelation from the Infinite Maker to the finite 
maker who devoutly conceives these things, and 
aspires to make them manifest to his brothers of the 
earth. If a man have no passion he can have no 


true impulse to create any thing. If lie have pas- 
sion, what he designs will then be in accordance and 
proportion with what lie imagines; and lastly, what 
he imagines can only receive due form, and be intel- 
ligible to fitting eyes, by mastery of hand." 

"This shapeless lump of clay, so unsightly, so 
cold, Biid unauggestive, is the type of all substance 
whereon no work has been done. Breathe fire into 
it — give to it a soul, and it shall have high capacities ; 
set an artist's hand to work upon it, and it may have 
an angel's form. All the great imaginings, all the 
splendid visions that spring up in the mind, or can 
be created by voluntary power, will exercise no good 
influence in the world, nor have a long date, unless 
they be wrought upon a clear design, and are built 
up into a suitable structure. Nay, thoughts them- 
selves, howsoever lofty or profound, must have intel- 
ligible form. The spirit of philosophy and of art, 
may comprehend the abstractions, and the germi- 
nating ideas as they exist in the work-places of the 
brain ; but even these practised spirits understand 
the things better when they have acquired some 
definite shape, visible within, if not without ^ while 
for the use and beiielit of mankind at large no labour 
is available that hath not intelligible form." 

"As generations advance in civilization and refine- 
ment, a polish comes over the surface of nature, so 
that an artist that works with a light hand, shall Gnd 



his tool's edge turned, and his labours produce no 
effect. In these days the people need power. They 
talk of knowledge, but must first be made to feel 
truth, and desire it. Among the relics of ancient 
Egypt there is a colossal granite Fist; sole memory 
of a forgotten god. Four thousand years have those 
granite fingers been held close. Tliey did their 
work — and were locked up. It was that power which 
reared the pyramids ; which gave them their struc- 
ture, their form, and their eternity. They could not 
have tasted as rude shapeless heaps. They could not 
have endured the elements; man could not have borne 
t!ie sight of them. Imagine that mighty fragment 
of a limb to open out again into a Hand! A good 
change has come among some nations, and will 
gradually develope itself through all nations, — the 
change of feeling and conviction in the estimate of 
power. True power is now seen to arise from the 
nobler passions of the heart, and of the intellect. 
Use, then, that mighty open Hand with moral aim, 
and build for truth a lofty fabric." 

" Nothing will now be received which has pot 
some distinct principle, a clear design, a shapely 
structure. Characters, passions, thought, action und 
event, must all be within a circle and citadel of their 
own, bounded by no hard line of horizon, and opening 
large portals on all sides to the influences and sympa- 


thies of the outer world. The only artist-work that 
does good in its -day, or that reaches posterity, is the 
work of a Soul that gives Form. But without the 
impassioned life of that soul, the best-reasoned form 
and structure are but cold vanities, which leave man's 
unstirred nature just where they found it, and there- 
fore are of no service on earth." 

London : Printed by SteWABT and A!cBBAT,01d Bailey. 






415) 723-1493 

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